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AP® Environmental Science

Course Description:

Environmental Science is the study of the components of our surroundings, both living

and nonliving, and the interactions of these components. This course is designed to

help students gain a greater understanding of many of the more specific concepts

incorporated in this broad definition; including air, water, soil, geology, human ecology,

succession, and our relationships as humans to the components of this environment.

Students will develop skills in observation and objective analysis, scientific inquiry, and

in oral and written communications; they will take part in ecological field studies, learn

data collection procedures, and conduct oral presentations of their findings to the

class. Environmental Science is a very dynamic, hands-on course subject to opinion

and heated debate, new interpretations, and often, tech information that can be

confusing and misleading

The course is broken down into five overlapping areas of study: environmental science in a

social context, ecological principles and their application, energy, resource management, and

pollution policy. Thematic topics covered in the course include: science as a process,

ecosystems, energy sources, population principles, biodiversity issues, water management, air

quality issues, and environmental policy and decision making. In addition, students will

conduct all of the College Board AP Environmental Science laboratories, as well as other

supplemental laboratory experiences and independent research that will support my thematic


The class meets five days a week for thirtyeight

weeks. Regular class periods are fortyone

minutes long. Lab periods are given every other day for an additional fortyone


allowing for a double lab period when needed.

Required Text:

E. Enger, B. Smith. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships, Mc Graw Hill, 10th


Additional Resources:

Supplemental readings and information will be provided from a variety of other sources.


Quarter grades will be broken down as follows:

1) Tests and Quizzes: 70%

2) Lab reports: 20%

3) Homework/Classwork/Projects: 10%



Students will normally be given a quiz covering the vocabulary for each chapter covered in this

class. Vocabulary lists for some of the shorter chapters may be combined into a single quiz.

Each vocabulary quiz will be worth 20 points.


A test will usually cover the material from one chapter. The typical format is 3050


choice questions, followed by one essay question which students may choose to answer from a

bank of three or four possibilities.


Most homework will be reading assigned from your textbook or from a supplement. You will

earn credit for each reading assignment by completing a short 510

question assignment. Other

homework may consist of research, writing assignments, or analysis activities associated with a

class exercise or lab assignment.


Environmental Science is credited as a "laboratory science. Students will earn lab credit

through the development and completion of a field research project, as well as handson

laboratory investigations through out the year.

The laboratory time accounts for approximately 25% of the instructional time. Students are

required to complete the labs set forth by The College Board Advanced Placement Program.

Students are expected to read each lab carefully before coming to the laboratory and are

responsible for following all correct laboratory and safety procedures. Additional labs will be

required include such as ecosystems and succession, landfill and recycling investigation,

ornithology, alternative energy, energy resources, aquatic ecosystems, sewage treatment and a

field trip to the Sunken Forest National Park. Computer lab simulations are available for landuse

planning principles, population trends, and global climate changes. Students will be

responsible for writing a formal lab report for each lab. Lab reports are due one week from the

completion of the lab activity.

This is a college level course and students are expected to conduct and apply themselves

appropriately in order to perform and excel at a college level. I will be available every day after

school for extra help. It is strongly suggested that each student attend at least one period of extra

help per week.

Each quarter will count for 20% of the final grade, midterm and final exam as 10% each

· Late homework will not be accepted. 5% will be deducted from each lab for each day

the lab is late. If a student is absent for a unit exam, they are required to make up the

exam within two days.

· Students must write a major paper dealing with one of the ethical issues surrounding

Energy and Civilization: Patterns of Consumption research today. This independent

activity introduces the students to proper research techniques using traditional library

sources and electronic sources. Students learn to discriminate between meaningful and


information. The paper is due by January 15th.

· PowerPoint presentations on environmental science topics will be required. Each

student will be responsible for giving a short presentation on a topic relating to the

course content that includes information from current journals and news articles.

· Debate The

class is organized into two or more groups, pro and con, based on a

controversial issue in environmental science. Members of each group must research

information to help their side win the debate. The winning side formulates the most

well documented arguments and counterarguments.

· Students will be required to read and write a paper on a novel, such as An Inconvenient

Truth, which presents a view of global warming and its progress by exposing the myths

and misconceptions that surround it. The reaction paper is due by June 15th.

Topics and Time line:

I. Environmental Science in a Social Context Chapters 1 3

1) Environmental Interrelationships (1 week) Chapter 1

a) An Ecosystem Approach

b) Regional Environmental Concerns

2) Environmental Ethics (1 week) Chapter 2

a) Views of Nature

i) How we view nature

ii) Environmental Attitudes

iii) Societal Environmental Ethics

iv) Corporate Environmental Ethics

v) Environmental Justice

vi) Individual Environmental Ethics

vii)Global Environmental Ethics

3) Risk Management and Cost: Elements of Decision Making ( 2 weeks) Chapter 3

a) Risk and Economics

i) Characterizing Risk

ii) Risk Assessment and Management

b) Economics in an Environmental Context

i) Resources

ii) Supply and Demand

iii) Assigning Value to Natural Resources

iv) Comparing Economic and Ecological Systems

v) Economics and Sustainable Development

vi) Economics, Environment and Developing Nations

II. Ecological Principles and Their Application Chapters 4,5,6,7,8

1) Interrelated Scientific Principles: Matter, Energy, and Environment (1 week)

Chapter 4

i) The Scientific method

ii) Observations

iii) Constructing and Testing Hypothesis



The student will be able to: understand the basic elements of the scientific method and apply this

process to solving problems. List limitations and challenges to the scientific method and relate

scientific method to environmental agencies and organizations. Students will also organize data

and describe how it would best be presented through the use of charts and graphs.

The Structure of Matter

iv) Atomic structure

v) Acids, Bases and pH

vi) Chemical Reactions

vii)Inorganic and Organic Matter

b) Energy Principles

i) Kinds of Energy

ii) States of Matter

iii) First and Second Law of Thermodynamics

2) Interactions: Environments and Organisms (2 weeks) Chapter 5

a) Ecological Concepts

i) Environment

ii) Living Factors

iii) Habitat and Niche

iv) The role of natural selection and Evolution

v) Natural Selection

vi) Evolutionary Patterns

b) Kinds of Organism Interactions

i) Predation

ii) Competition

iii) Symbiotic Relationships

iv) Human Interaction

c) Community and Ecosystem Interactions

i) Major Role of Organisms

ii) Food Chain and Food Web

iii) Energy Flow through the Ecosystem

iv) Nutrient Cycles in Ecosystems

v) Biogeochemical Cycles

2. Lab/Field Activity – Mapping Biotic Factors in the EnvironmentStudents

will study populations using the quadrat sampling method. Students will

examine ecosystems and identify living things that make up a community

3) Kinds of Ecosystems and Communities (3 weeks) Chapter 6

a) Succession

i) Primary Succession

ii) Secondary Succession

iii) Modern Concepts of Succession and Climax

b) Biomes

i) The Effect of Elevation on Climate and Vegetation

ii) Desert

iii) Grassland

iv) Savanna

v) Chaparral

vi) Tropical Dry Forest

vii)Tropical Rainforest

viii)Temperate Deciduous Forest

ix) Taiga and Tundra

c) Major Aquatic Ecosystems

i) Marine Ecosystems

ii) Freshwater Ecosystems

iii) Genetic variation the substrate for natural selection

3.Lab – Ecosystems and Succession

This lab will enable the student to understand the parts of ecosystems and how biotic factors

interact. Students will create a food web and determine if the organisms are producers or

consumers. The lab is designed to demonstrate the importance of clean water in the lives of

all living organisms. Students will explore ecological succession, give some real world

examples and explain how humans affect ecological succession.

4. Lab – Aquatic Ecosystems

This lab will enable the student to create a balanced aquatic ecosystem in the laboratory and

observe the nitrogen cycle. Students will observe how an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle can

effect an entire ecosystem and observe the abiotic and biotic components of some local

aquatic ecosystems. Students will also investigate interrelationships among the aquatic

organisms and their nonliving


5. Field Activity – Students will engage in field work by collecting local marine aquatic

samples to use in the implementation of the aquatic ecosystems lab.

6. Lab – AP – Primary Productivity, Marine Adaptation

By: Dr. Angela C. Morrow, University of Northern Colorado

Through the investigation of this lab students will have a better understanding the concept of

primary productivity and have used one or more methods to calculate primary productivity.

Students will also discover the concepts of marine primary productivity, net productivity vs.

gross productivity, and the importance of comparing dry weight versus wet weight.

III. Energy Chapters 9, 10, 11

1) Energy and Civilization: Patterns of Consumption (2 weeks) Chapter 9

a) History of Energy Consumption

i) Biological Energy Sources

ii) Increased Use of wood

iii) Fossil Fuels and the Industrial Revolution

iv) Growth and the use of Fossil Fuels

b) How Energy is Used

i) Residential and Commercial Energy Use

ii) Industrial Energy Use

iii) Transportation Energy Use

c) Energy Consumption Trends

i) Growth Energy Use

ii) Available Energy Sources

iii) Political and Economic Factors

2) Energy Sources (2 weeks) Chapter 10

a) Resources and Reserves

i) FossilFuel


ii) Coal

iii) Oil and Natural Gas

iv) Coal Use

7. Lab Energy Resources

Students will search the web, current periodicals, or recent publication to find the most


energy information. They will investigate several questions, and find sources

of information to see how government, private energy corporations and environmental

organizations differ in their projections of energy use.

8. Lab Solar House

Students will research passive and active solar house designs. Students will build the

model house from materials provided and scrounged. Students will test the ability of their

model house to remain cool in the summer and retain heat during the winter.

IV. Resource Management – Part I

1) Biodiversity Issues (6 weeks) Chapters 1216

a) Biodiversity Loss and Extinction

i) Causes of Extinction

ii) Extinction as a Result of Human Activity

b) Describing Biodiversity

i) Genetic Diversity

ii) Species Diversity

iii) Ecosystem Diversity

c) The Value of Biodiversity

i) Biological and Ecosystem System Value

ii) Direct Economic Values

iii) Ethical Values

d) Threats to Biodiversity

i) Habitat Loss

ii) Overexploitation

iii) Introduction of Exotic Species

iv) Control of Pest Organisms

e) What is Being Done to Preserve Biodiversity

i) Legal Protection

ii) Sustainable Management of Fish Population

iii) Sustainable Management of Wildlife Populations

2 Land –Use Planning

a) The Need for Planning

b) Historical Forces That Shaped land use in North America

i) The Importance of Waterways

ii) The Rural – to –Urban Shift

c) Migration from the Central City to the Suburbs

d) Factor That Contribute to Sprawl

i) Lifestyle Factors

ii) Economic Factors

iii) Planning and Policy Factors

e) Problems Associated with Unplanned Urban Growth

i. Transportation Problems

ii. Air Pollution

iii. Low Energy Efficiency

iv. Loss of Sense of Community

v. Death of Central City

vi. Higher Infrastructure Costs

vii. Loss of Open Space

viii. Loss of Farmland

ix. Water pollution Problems

x. Flood Plain Problem

xi. Wetlands Misuse

xii. Other Land – Use Considerations

f) LandUse

Planning Principles

g) Mechanisms for Implementing LandUse


i) Establishing State of Regional Planning Agencies

ii) Purchasing Land or Use Rights

iv) Regulating Use

h) Special Urban Planning Issues

i) Urban Transportation Planning

ii) Urban Recreation Planning

iii) Redevelopment of InnerCity


v) Smart Growth

9. Lab – Studying an Algal Bloom

Students will investigate how algae are affected by common pollutants. Students will also

determine how common pollutants contribute to environmental problems. Through this

investigation students will analyze the effect of different concentrations of common

pollutants on the growth of algae.

Resource Management – (Weeks 6) Part II

i) Soil and Its uses

i) Geologic Processes

ii) Soil and Land

iii) Soil Formation

iv) Soil Properties

v) Soil Profile

vi) Soil Erosion

vii)Soil Conservation Practices

10. Lab – Earth Science: Plate Tectonics, Volcanism, Earthquakes

Students will explore the earth’s dynamic plates and the cause and affect of the

movement. Students will also examine the affects of volcanism on soil, farm lands and

how it effects the population.

11. Lab – Earth Science: Soil Structure and the Rock Cycle

Students will explore how earth’s natural processes create and destroy rocks through the

investigation of the rock cycle. Through this exploration students will also investigate

soil properties and structure.

j) Environmental Close Up: Desertification and Global Security

i) Contour Farming

ii) Strip Farming Terracing

iii) Waterways

iv) Windbreaks

k) Conventional Versus Conservation Tillage

l) Protecting Soil on Non Farm Land

3 Agricultural Methods and Pest Management

a) The Development of Agriculture

i) Shifting Agriculture

ii) LaborIntensive


iii) Mechanized Agriculture

b) Fossil Fuel Versus Muscle Power

c) The Impact of Fertilizer

d) Agricultural Chemical Use:

i. Insecticides

ii. Herbicides

iii. Fungicides and Rodenticides

iv. Other Agricultural Chemicals

b. Problems with Pesticide Use

i. Persistence

ii. Bioaccumulation and Biomagnifications

iii. Pesticide Resistance

iv. Effects on Nontarget Organisms

v. Human Health Concerns

c. Why Are Pesticides So Widely Used?

d. Alternatives to Conventional Agriculture

i. Techniques for Protecting Soil and water Resources

ii. Food Additives

iii. Integrated Pest Management

e. Kinds of Water Use

i) Domestic Use of Water

ii) Agricultural Use of Water

iii) Industrial Use of Water

iv) In Stream Use of Water

f. Kinds and Sources of Water Pollution

i. Municipal Water Pollution

ii. Agricultural Water Pollution

iii. Industrial Water Pollution

iv. Thermal Pollution

v. Marine Oil Pollution

vi. Groundwater Pollution

g. WaterUse

Planning Issues

i. Water Diversion

ii. Wastewater Treatment

iii. Groundwater Mining

iv. Preserving Scenic Water Areas and Wildlife Habitats

v. Issues – Analysis: Is There Lead in Our Drinking Water?

12. Lab Watershed


Students will explore how science must inform policy if land use and zoning regulations

are to be sustainable. This lab integrates water resources, soil resources and

environmental policy.

4. Pollution and Policy

Air Quality Issues

a) The Atmosphere

b) Pollution of the Atmosphere

c) Categories of Air Pollution

i) Carbon Monoxide

ii) Particulate Matter

iii)Sulfur Dioxide

v) Nitrogen Dioxide

vi) Lead

vii)Volatile Organic Compounds


Ozone and Photochemical Smog

ix) Hazardous Air Pollution

e) Control of Air Pollution

i) Motor Vehicle Emissions

ii) Particulate Matter Emissions

iii) Power Plant Emissions

iv) The Clean Air Act

f) Acid Deposition

f) Ozone Depletion

g) Global Warming and Climate Change

i) Causes of Global Warming and Climate Change

ii) Potential Consequences of Global Warming and Climate Change

h) Addressing Climate Change

i) Energy Efficiency

j) The Role of Biomass

k) Political and Economic Forces

l) Indoor Air Pollution

m) Solid Waste Management and Disposal

Kinds of Solid Waste

Municipal Solid Waste

Methods of Waste Disposal

i. Landfills

ii. Incineration

iii. Producing Mulch and compost

iv. Source Reduction

v. Recycling

vi. IssuesAnalysis:

Paper or Plastic?

Regulating Hazardous Material

n) Hazardous and Toxic Materials and our Environment

o) Hazardous and Toxic SubstancesSome


p) Defining Hazardous Wastes

q) Issues Involved in Setting Regulations

i. Identification of Hazardous and Toxic Materials

ii. Setting Exposure Limits

iii. Acute and chronic Toxicity

iv. Synergism

v. Persistent and Nonpersistent


r) Environmental Problems Caused by Hazardous Waste

s) Health Risks Associated with Hazardous Waste

t) HazardousWaste


Legacy of Abuse

u) Hazardous Waste Management Program Evolution

v) IssuesAnalysis:

House hold Hazardous Waste

13. LAB – AP Acid

Deposition Lab

By: Lonnie Miller, El Diamante High School, Visalia Unified School District, Visalia, CA, in

conjunction with the Environmental Literacy Council Summer Lab Development Team 2004

Students will describe and discuss the impacts of various fossil fuels on acid deposition and how

gaseous pollutants acidify rain. Through the exploration of this lab students will have a better

understanding of the pH of the local area’s precipitation and how it compares to other areas.

Environmental Policy and Decision Making

a) New Challenges for a New Century

i. Governance and Government

ii. Learning from the pat

iii. Thinking about the Future

iv. Defining the Future

b) The Development of Environment Policy in the United States

i. The Changing Nature of Environmental Policy

c) Environmental Policy and Regulation

d) The Greening of Geopolitics

e) Terrorism and the Environment

f) International Environmental Policy

14. Lab AP Land

Use: Past, Present, and Future

By: Dr. Edward Wells, Wilson College, in conjunction with the Environmental Literacy Council

In this laboratory exercise, students will gain an understanding of the National Environmental Policy

Act (NEPA) and be able to apply it to a (perhaps hypothetical) community project. In the process,

they will learn the methods of investigating an environmental history and integrate this pursuit

with sciences of ecology and geology along with environmental land use policy.

V. Pollution and Policy Chapters 17 20

9. AIR Quality Issues (2 weeks)

a. The Atmosphere

i. Pollution of the Atmosphere

ii. Categories of Air Pollution

1. Carbon Monoxide

2. Particulate Matter

3. Sulfur Dioxide

4. Nitrogen Dioxide

5. Lead

6. Ground Level Ozone and Photochemical Smog

iii. Control of Air Pollution

1. Motor Vehicle Emissions

2. Particulate Matter Emissions

3. Power Plant Emissions

4. Clean Air Act

b. Acid Deposition

i. Ozone Depletion

ii. Global Warming and Climate Change

iii. Causes of Global Warming

1. Potential Consequences of Global Warming

2. Energy Efficiency

3. The Role of Biomass

c. Indoor Air Pollution

i. Gases

10.AIR Quality Issues (2 weeks)

a. The Atmosphere

i. Pollution of the Atmosphere

ii. Categories of Air Pollution

1. Carbon Monoxide

2. Particulate Matter

3. Sulfur Dioxide

4. Nitrogen Dioxide

5. Lead

6. Ground Level Ozone and Photochemical Smog

iii. Control of Air Pollution

1. Motor Vehicle Emissions

2. Particulate Matter Emissions

3. Power Plant Emissions

4. Clean Air Act

b. Acid Deposition

i. Ozone Depletion

ii. Global Warming and Climate Change

iii. Causes of Global Warming

1. Potential Consequences of Global Warming

2. Energy Efficiency

3. The Role of Biomass

c. Indoor Air Pollution

i. Gases

15. Lab Monitoring

Air Quality

Students describe and discuss several air pollutants and methods for detecting them.

Students will also investigate the chemical reactions behind how several monitoring systems


11.Solid Waste Management and Disposal (2 weeks) Chapter 18

a. Kinds of Solid Waste

x) Municipal Solid Waste

b. Methods of Waste Disposal

c. Kinds of Solid Waste

xi) Municipal Solid Waste



xiv)Producing Mulch and Compost

xv) Source Reduction


16. Lab –Landfill and Recycling Facilities

This lab will familiarize the student with: the problems associated with the increases in solid

waste. Students will explore some of the environmental problems associated with landfills, solid

waste and recycling programs. Students will also observe the methods available for reducing the

amount of material reaching landfills and the benefits of reusing/recycling products.

12.Regulating Hazardous Materials (2 weeks) Chapter 19

a. Hazardous and Toxic Materials in Our Environment

i. Identification of Hazardous and Toxic Materials

ii. Setting Exposure Limits

iii. Acute and Chronic Toxicity

iv. Synergism

v. Persistent and Non Persistent Pollutants

vi. Individual Environmental Ethics

13.Environmental Problems Caused by Hazardous Waste

a. Hazardous Waste

i. Health Risks

ii. Hazardous Waste Dumps

iii. Toxic Chemical Releases

b. HazardousWaste

Management Choices

i. Reducing the Amount of Waste at the Source

ii. Recycling Wastes

iii. Treating Wastes

iv. Disposal Methods

v. International Trade in Hazardous Wastes

vi. Hazardous Waste Management Program Evolution

17. Lab – Sewage Treatment

This lab will enable the student to understand: the importance of water quality to

environmental health. Students will investigate the chemical, physical and biological

processes involved in water treatment. Students will discover the importance of water as

a resource and part of ecosystems and the problems associated with various water


14.Environmental Policy and Decision Making (2 weeks)

a. New Challenges for a New Century

i. Governance and Government

ii. Learning From the Past

iii. Thinking about the Past

iv. Defining the Future

b. The Development of Environmental Policy in the United States

i. The changing Nature of Environmental Policy

ii. Environmental Policy an Regulation

iii. Terrorism and Environmental

1. Earth Summit on Environmental and Development

2. Environmental Policy and the European Union

3. New International Instruments

18. Lab – Designing a Professional Environmental Impact Study

Students will choose an area in the environmental field and create and perform a their own study.

When the environmental study is complete they will present the impact study to the class.

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