Ap environmental Science Syllabus 2014– 2015 Woodbridge High School

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AP Environmental Science Syllabus

2014– 2015

Woodbridge High School

Ms. Livres

Course Description:

This AP course is developed in such a manner as to provide the student with the equivalent of an introductory college course in Environmental Science and to offer substantial laboratory experience utilizing the tools of the discipline. The goal of this course is to provide you with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of our natural world, to identify and analyze natural and man-made environmental problems, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions.

This class is a labor intensive course, which will require a minimum of 7 hours of additional studying per week, outside of the classroom. There will be special non-school hour labs/trips that will be announced at a later date.
Class Size and Scheduling:

Class size will be held at 15 students due to lab facilities. This course consist of 40 minute class time five days a week for the entire year.

Course Goals/Fundamental Ideas (from the College Board):

The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them.

Science as Inquiry

Science is a process which produces an explanation of both the external, physical and natural environment. Scientific inquiry must include descriptions of both hypothesis generation and testing (Stan Rachelson). It is important that the science done in the classroom resembles the science done outside the classroom. You will be presented with lab activities throughout each unit and will learn to ask questions and investigate to answer them.


Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes, that cut across the many topics included in the study of environmental science. The following themes provide a foundation for the structure of the AP Environmental Science course.

1. Science is a process.

• Science is a method of learning more about the world.

• Science constantly changes the way we understand the world.

2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.

• Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere.

•As energy flows through systems, more of it becomes unusable at each step.

3. The Earth itself is one interconnected system.

• Natural systems change over time and space.

• Biogeochemical systems vary in ability to recover from disturbances.

4. Humans alter natural systems.

• Humans have had an impact on the environment for millions of years.

• Technology and population growth have enabled humans to increase both the rate and scale of their impact on the environment.

5. Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.

• Understanding the role of cultural, social, and economic factors is vital to the development of solutions.

6. Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.

•A suitable combination of conservation and development is required.

•Management of common resources is essential.


This course is designed for the mature and serious science student, who has successfully completed Biology and Chemistry with an A or B+. Chemistry can be taking at the same time as APES. Due to the quantitative analysis that is required in the course, students should also have completed at least one semester of algebra with an A or B+.

Successful completion of this course will qualify a student to take the Advanced Placement Exam in May for possible credit and/or adequately prepare a student for further college studies. For a non-science major, this may qualify as your only required science course in college.

Raven, Peter H., and Berg, Linda R.. Environment. 8th ed. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2012.

Other Resources:

In addition to the textbook, we will draw information from supplemental environmental science textbooks, lab manuals, periodicals, readings/case studies, and the Internet.

Molnar, William. Laboratory Investigations AP Environmental Science. 1st ed. Saddle Brook, NJ: Peoples Education, Inc., 2005.
Units of Study and Percentage of Coursework:
Earth Systems and Resources (10-15%)

A. Earth Science Concepts (Geologic time scale; plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism; seasons; solar intensity and latitude)

B. The Atmosphere (Composition; structure; weather and climate; atmospheric circulation and the Coriolis Effect; atmosphere-ocean interactions; ENSO)

C. Global Water Resources and Use (Freshwater/saltwater; ocean circulation; agricultural, industrial, and domestic use; surface and groundwater issues; global problems; conservation)

D. Soil and Soil Dynamics (Rock cycle, formation; composition; physical and chemical properties; main soil types; erosion and other soil problems; soil conservation)
The Living World (10-15%)

A. Ecosystem Structure (Biological populations and communities; ecological niches; interactions among species; keystone species; species diversity and edge effects; major terrestrial and aquatic biomes)

B. Energy Flow (Photosynthesis and cellular respiration; food webs and trophic levels; ecological pyramids)

C. Ecosystem diversity (Biodiversity; natural selection; evolution; ecosystem services)

D. Natural Ecosystem Change (Climate shifts; species movement; ecological succession)

E. Natural Biogeochemical Cycles (Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, water; conservation of matter)

Population (10-15%)

A. Population Biology Concepts

(Population ecology; carrying capacity; reproductive strategies; survivorship)

B. Human Population

1. Human Population dynamics (Historical population sizes, distribution; fertility rates; growth rates and doubling times; demographic transition; age-structure diagrams)

2. Population size (Strategies for sustainability; case studies; national policies)

3. Impacts of population growth (Hunger; disease; economic effects; resource use; habitat destruction)
Land and Water Use (10-15%)

A. Agriculture

1. Feeding a growing population (Human nutritional requirements; types of agriculture; Green Revolution; genetic engineering and crop production; deforestation; irrigation; sustainable agriculture)

2. Controlling pests (Types of pesticides; costs and benefits of pesticide use; integrated pest management; relevant laws)

B. Forestry (Tree plantations; old growth forests; forests fires; forest management; national forests)

C. Rangelands (Overgrazing; deforestation; desertification; rangeland management; federal rangelands)

D. Other Land Use

1. Urban Land Use (Planned development; suburban sprawl; urbanization)

2. Transportation infrastructure (Federal highway system; canals and channels; road less areas; ecosystem impacts)

3. Public and federal lands (Management; wilderness areas; national parks; wildlife refuges; forests; wetlands)

4. Land conservation options (Preservation; remediation; mitigation; restoration)

5. Sustainable land-use strategies

E. Mining (Mineral formation; extraction; global reserves; relevant laws and treaties)

F. Fishing (Fishing techniques; overfishing; aquaculture; relevant laws and treaties)

G. Global Economics (Globalization; World Bank; Tragedy of the Commons; relevant laws and treaties)
Energy Resources and Consumption (10-15%)

A. Energy Concepts

(Energy forms; power; units; conversions; Laws of Thermodynamics)

B. Energy Consumption

1. History (Industrial Revolution; exponential growth; energy crisis)

2. Present global energy use

3. Future energy needs

C. Fossil Fuel Resources and Use (Formation of coal, oil, and natural gas; extraction/purification methods; world reserves and global demand; synfuels; environmental advantages/disadvantages of sources)

D. Nuclear Energy (Nuclear fission process; nuclear fuel; electricity production; nuclear reactor types; environmental advantages/disadvantages; safety issues; radiation and human health; radioactive wastes; nuclear fusion)

E. Hydroelectric Power (Dams; flood control; salmon; silting; other impacts)

F. Energy Conservation (Energy efficiency; CAFÉ standards; hybrid electric vehicles; mass transit)

G. Renewable energy (Solar energy; solar electricity; hydrogen fuel cells; biomass; wind energy; small-scale hydroelectric; ocean waves and tidal energy; geothermal; environmental advantages/disadvantages)

Pollution (25-30%)

A. Pollution Types

1. Air pollution (Sources- primary and secondary; major air pollutants; measurement units; acid deposition – causes and effects; heat islands and temperature inversions; indoor air pollution; remediation and reduction strategies; Clean Air Act and other relevant laws)

2. Noise pollution (Sources; effects; control measures)

3. Water pollution (Types; sources, causes, and effects; cultural eutrophication; ground-water pollution; maintaining water quality; water purification; sewage treatment/septic systems; Clean Water Act and other relevant laws)

4. Solid waste (types; disposal; reduction)

B. Impacts on the Environment and Human Health

1. Hazards to human health (Environmental risk analysis; acute and chronic effects; dose-response relationships; air pollutants; smoking and other risks)

2. Hazardous chemicals in the environment (Types of hazardous waste; treatment/disposal of hazardous waste; cleanup of contaminated sites; biomagnifications; relevant laws)

C. Economic Impacts (Cost-benefit analysis; externalities; marginal costs; sustainability)

Global Change (10-15%)

A. Stratospheric Ozone (Formation of stratospheric ozone; ultraviolet radiation; causes of ozone depletion; effects of ozone depletion; strategies for reducing ozone depletion; relevant laws and treaties)

B. Global Warming (Greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect; impacts and consequences of global warming; reducing climate change; relevant laws and treaties)

C. Loss of Biodiversity

1. Habitat loss; overuse; pollution; introduced species; endangered and extinct species

2. Maintenance through conservation

3. Relevant laws and treaties
Course Outline:

The following is a summary of all chapters that will be taught during the semester. Listed with chapters are activities, labs, and projects. This is not the full list and assignments CAN BE added.

Timeframe: 2.5 weeks

Introduction Math: dimensional analysis and science articles

Chapter 1 Introduction Environmental Science and Sustainability

Chapter 2 Environmental Laws, Economics and Ethics

Test Chapter 1 and 2
Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Activity/Lab: Tragedy of the Commons

Math: dimensional analysis.

Lab/Activity: Ecological Footprint (Internet)

LAb/Activity: Tragedy of the Common

Activity: Environmental Timeline

Timeframe: 3.5 weeks

Chapter 13 Water: A limited Resource

Chapter 14 Soil Resources

Chapter 15 Mineral Resources

Test on Chapters 13, 14, and 15
Activities/Lab/Project for Chapters

Math: Calculating water usage.

Lab: Soil Analysis

Three labs-LaMotte test to evaluate the chemical makeup of the soil, porosity and permeability, particle size, and soil texture using the soil triangle.

Lab: Water Quality
Timeframe: 3 weeks

Chapter 3 Ecosystems and Energy

Chapter 4 Ecosystems and the Physical Environment.

Chapter 6 Major Ecosystems of the World.

Test on chapters 3, 4, and 6
Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Math: 10 percent rule, and per capita word problems

Lab: Specific Heat and Climate

Lab: Who’s Got the Power (calculating work and energy)

Biomes Project 

Biogeochemical Project

Timeframe: 2.5 weeks

Chapter 5 Ecosystems and Living Organisms

Chapter 16 Biological Resources
Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Math: Growth rate, doubling time, rule of 70, and Shannon’s Biodiversity Index

Lab: Duckweed Population lab (if possible lab equipment is available)

Lab: Predator-Prey

Lab: The Power of Doubling

Lab: Brine Shrimp LD-15

Hotspots Project

Invasive Species Project

Endangered Species Project

Lab: Parking Lot Diversity Study using Shannon Weiner Diversity Index (internet lab)

Timeframe: 2 weeks

Chapter 8 The Human Population

Chapter 9 The Urban Environment

Test on chapters 8 and 9

Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Lab: World Population

Cemetery Demographics Project (if time permits)
Timeframe: 3 weeks

Chapter 10 Energy Consumption

Chapter 12 Renewable Energy and Nuclear Power

Chapter 11 Fossil Fuels

Test on Chapter 10, 11, and 12
Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Math: energy calculations

Renewable energy project

Lab: Cookie Mining

Timeframe: 2 weeks

Chapter 17 Land Resources

Chapter 18 Food Resources

Test on Chapters 17 and 18

Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Activity: How diet affects the environment-Students will explore how their personal choices affect the environment when it comes to producing their food.

Timeframe: 2.5 weeks

Chapter 19 Air Pollution

Chapter 21 Water Pollution

Chapter 22 Pest Management

Chapter 23 Solid and Hazardous wastes

Test on Chapters 19, 21, 22, and 23.

Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Math: Calculating waste and toxins.

Lab: What’s in Our Waste Lab?

Lab: Waste Water Treatment

Lab: Acid Rain

Activity: Personal water logging

Timeframe: 1.5 weeks

Chapter 20 Global Climate Change

Chapter 24 Tomorrow’s World

Test on Chapters 20 and 24

Activities/Labs/Projects for Chapters

Natural Parks Project

Catastrophe Project
End of the year Project: Ecobottle project/presentations to elementary school.

Field Investigations and/or Field Trips*-Going out in the field to do scientific investigations, measurements, or observations is ESSENTIAL to this course. Due to limited class time these field experiences might occur outside of normal school hours (such as after school or on the weekend). Your instructor will try to give you as much advance notice as possible in order to plan ahead so that you can attend.

THE EXAM: May 5th, 2015
NOTE: There are NO exemptions from the final exam. All students must take the final exam in this class. It is good practice for the AP test. It will also be set up just like the AP exam in May.
The A.P. Environmental Science Exam created by the College Board and Educational Testing Service will be administered on Monday, May 5th, 2014. This exam is three hours in length and consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section comprised of 100 questions and forming 60% of the grade, and a free response section comprised of four free-response questions and forming 40% of the grade. The multiple choice section is designed to cover the breadth of your knowledge and understanding of environmental science and includes thought provoking problems and questions based on fundamental ideas from environmental science as well as questions based on the recall of basic facts and major concepts. The free-response section emphasizes the application of principles in greater depth; you will need to organize answers to broad questions, demonstrating reasoning and analytical skills, as well as the ability to synthesize material from several sources into a coherent essay.

Each test will include a combination of multiple choice questions and a Free Response Question (FRQ). The FRQ will be one from a previously given AP exam, or one I create which represents what you will see on the AP exam.

You will be assessed daily with reading quizzes, pre/post lab quizzes, and lecture quizzes. You also will have cumulative tests AP style at the end of each marking period. The cumulative tests will be comprehensive on the material covered during the current grading period. The purpose of this policy is to help you retain the material.
Homework and Other Assignments:

Our time in class is limited, so completing homework is essential to keeping up with the content and concepts being covered. You will be required to read sections from the text, articles, case studies and be ready to discuss them during class. How well you do in this class and on the AP exam in May will reflect how much effort you exert, both at home and during our time together. Work to be graded may include, but not be limited to the following: reading journals, essays, written assignments, section assessments, chapter review questions, vocabulary, and readings on articles on environmental topics, lab reports, projects and presentations. These assignments will NOT be accepted late. In the case of excused absences, you have two days for each day you’re absent to clear up zeros resulting from missed assignments. Please see me. It is your responsibility.

Laboratory Experiments:

Science lab activities and experiments are exciting ways to explore new ideas and to reinforce learned concepts. Because of the importance of safety in any science environment, lab participation requires proper behavior (following directions, exercising caution and good judgment, etc.). If behavior is not satisfactory during a lab activity or experiment you may lose the privilege to complete it with the rest of the class and will receive a grade of zero.

If you are absent on a lab day, you hinder not only yourself, but you also hinder your lab group. Be here!! If your absence is unavoidable and excused, it is your responsibility to arrange time with me to do a makeup lab or replacement assignment as soon as possible. (Not during class time, please.) If you do not turn in the makeup lab/assignment or fail to do it altogether within one week of missing the lab, you will receive a zero.

• A Gmail account

• Notebooks:

You are responsible for keeping a 3 ring 2 inch binder, which is your notebook. The notebook should include notes, handouts, tests, labs and assignments. Be proud of your notebook; keep it neat and organized! It will be a very valuable tool as you prepare for your APES exam and tests.

  • Video and photo release

• Access to the internet from home (please let me know if this is a problem)

• Text: Environmental Science for *AP by Friedland and Reylea

Smartphones and Computers: Most work and notes will be access through certain apps or websites. Electronic devices such as smartphones will be permitted for use in class WHEN THE TEACHER SAYS IT IS ACCEPTABLE. These devices are useful for research on the web and accessing student grades. ALL Electronic Devices will be confiscated if they become a distraction in class. Students may pick up their device after class.

Tests/Labs =75%

Homework/in class assignments, reading journals, quizzes, projects and presentations =25%
Grading scale

A+ = 98-100 A = 95-97 A- = 92-94

B+ = 89-91 B = 86-88 B- = 83-85

C+ = 80-82 C = 77-79 C- = 74-76

D+ = 71-73 D = 68-70 D- = 65-67

F = 64 and below

Class Expectations

  • No food or drink in the classroom

  • Be prompt ( This is extremely important for our class)

  • Be prepared

  • Be polite

  • Put it back!

  • Be in your seat, prepared, and ready to start class when the bell rings. Do not interfere with the learning of others!! Keep safety in mind at all times!! Follow all school rules.


Any behavior that disrupts learning will be dealt with in an appropriate manner. You are young adults and need to take responsibility for your own actions. Possibilities include discussion with teacher, parental contact, removal from class, and other manners as deemed appropriate.

Make-Up Work:

  • All work needs to be completed promptly (1 day out = 2 days to make up work.).

  • If an absence is planned, I expect you to see me beforehand to get your work and it will be due on the class due date.

  • If you are absent unexpectedly check the course website, ask another student, and then see me with any questions after or before class. Please do not interrupt me when class has already started.

  • Missed tests/labs must be made up within ONE WEEK, OUTSIDE OF CLASS TIME. In some instances an alternate assignment may be given in place of a lab. It is your responsibility to make arrangements.

Because some laboratory activities are more complicated than others to set up (or are sometimes time-dependent), you might not be able to make up those activities. I may (but not always) provide you with an alternative assignment such as a reading, short paper, independent investigation, etc. as remediation.

Hall Passes

Hall passes are for emergencies only. Please make sure you have what you need for class.

When submitting daily work:

With folded edge to your LEFT and starting with the TOP line write on:

Line 1 Your Name Example: Carolus Linnaeus

Line 2 Block # and Class Name 3 – A P E S

Line 3 Date (month, day, year) August 9 2012

Line 4 Instructor Name Ms. Livres

Line 5 Title of Assignment Paragraph on Lab Safety
If your paper is not titled correctly, a 5 point deduction will be assessed for the assignment. Follow directions please. This request is made to minimize posting time and to properly document your work.

All written assignments that need revision (that means the work was given back to you to do correctly) are due two days after the assignment is returned to the student. If revision is not made within the 2-day period the original grade remains the same.

A note on Academic Integrity:

Every APES activity in which you participate is designed to help make your science experience as rich and productive as possible. It is okay to get help from other sources when needed – just be sure that in the end, the work is yours. All assignments, projects, labs, quizzes and tests must be your own work. Cheating will NOT be tolerated.


If a student would like extra help on an assignment or is having difficulty with the current topic, s/he may come in for tutoring during their lunch or before school. Tutoring is available at various times. Please check the board outside my room to see when I will be available for you.
Visit my School-Wire to get to the online textbook, PowerPoints, articles, and homework materials, as well as the current study guide, and related links for each unit.

Let’s all have a great experience in APES this year!

Helpful tips

Students are expected to come to class prepared and ready to learn. I expect you to make a good effort to learn the class material and to do the best job you can. Students are expected to work cooperatively with their classmates and with the teacher in achieving their learning goals.

Study Tips:

  1. An Environmental Science textbook cannot be read the way you would read a novel! Begin by pre-reading the chapter, glance at the section headings, charts, and tables in order to organize the material in your mind and stimulate your curiosity. This will make it easier to read the chapter and extract more information from it. This is not like your previous science classes. It requires a lot of effort and time spent studying and reviewing on your own!

  1. Be an active, not passive reader, by stopping frequently and consider what you have just read. What is the concept being discussed? Put it in your own words (out loud or by writing it down); by doing so you are reprocessing and using the information presented in the text. Place a few keynotes in your notebook; make sure your notes include all new terms and illustrative examples.

  1. Become a note taker and not a note copier! Simply writing down what is written on the board is passive learning. To get the most out of taking lecture notes, do it is a systematic manner. Before class, read the test material to be covered in lecture. You will then use class time more efficiently because you will learn more from the lecture. During lecture do not attempt to write down every word that is said; that approach is futile and unnecessary. Instead, focus on the major ideas. Summarizing information will allow you to rehearse and test yourself on the material.

Website Resources
Environmental Literacy Council Site


AP Environmental Science Web Resources


The Environment Directory


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


NASA Earth Observatory


MSNBC Environment Home Page


Climate Webquest

http://www.rgs.org/NR/rdonlyres/BE48F4DB F08C 4E8A 81F5 2F2850447DA5/0/WeatherandClimatewebquest.pdf

Food Chains and Food Webs


Musical Plates


Geochemical Cycles

Carbon Cycle Game Online

Nitrogen Cycle Passport Activity


Winogradsky Column Tutorial


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