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Barren County High School
Course Syllabus
AP Environmental Science Syllabus
Catherina L. Wiley
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: [email protected]
AP Environmental Science is a rigorous, inter-disciplinary course focusing on the application of
scientific concepts and principals to the understanding and methodologies regarding solution of
environmental problems and issues. An equivalent to a college-level class, this course includes
lecture, laboratory and field components through which students will learn about environmental
issues while developing and applying critical thinking, problem solving and communication
For a full description of the AP environmental Science visit:
The goal of this AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific skills
needed to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze causes
for and risks associated with natural and human-made environmental problems, and to examine
the alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them.
Through the intense creek studies students will practice techniques for ecosystem monitoring in
the local environment, take steps to ensure a more pristine watershed while ensuring the survival
of common and threatened iotic species. Students will use a variety of methods including
professional presentations at KSTA and electronic dissemination to communicate accurately and
meaningfully about observations and conclusions
Schedule and Labs:
This course meets during the spring semester for 90 minutes each school day. Two days a week
will consist of lecture, presentations, and discussion of textbook and primary source document
information. Students are expected to take or expand notes during these activities. The remaining
three days will be used for hands-on laboratory procedures, independent projects and field
experiences which allow students to supplement the information presented during
lectures/presentation days. The creek study is a long-term lab which will occur throughout the
year. Students will be required to write formal lab reports for their experiences in this study. This
schedule is a rough approximation as it will change week to week according to need.
Textbook and Supplemental Materials:
Although the textbook will remain the central source of information, the class will also use
supplemental resources such as additional textbooks, lab manuals, periodicals, case studies and
internet resources when deemed appropriate.
Required Course Materials:
Writing utensil, calculator, coloring pencils, index cards, a 3-ring notebook with 5 dividers:
Section Dividers should be labeled as follows: 1) notes and handouts 2) Assignments 3) labs 4)
tests and quizzes 5) AP test prep material.
APES in the News:
Environmental science is frequently changing and evolving field of study. To promote well-read
and informed students, each one is required to participate in the ―APES in the News‖
assignment. Once every grading period, each student must find a newspaper or magazine article
relating to environmental science, read through the article, and write a one-page (double-spaced)
reflection. Additionally each student will be required to produce an ―APES in the News‖
assignment during fall break and spring break. A total of six APES in the News articles must be
completed by the end of the school year. One of the six articles must come from a newspaper
clipping from a different state/country. No repeat articles allowed.
APES Twitter and Blog:
I encourage everyone to follow me on twitter at WileySci. This will allow us to keep in contact
and up to date on important issues for the class. Encourage your parents to follow as well.
Students are required to blog page through the course webpage. Each weeks topic will have a
corresponding question or comment posted on the webpage and tweeted. Students will then be
required to post a response to the question on the blog page.
Study and Review Sessions:
There will be after school study sessions periodically throughout the semester. In addition there
will be three regional study sessions with APES students from other schools. You are highly
encouraged to attend these sessions to prepare for the exam.
November 5 @ Warren East High School
February 25th @ Barren County High School
April 28th @ Bowling Green High School
Units and Lab Procedures:
I: Earth Systems and Resources
Unit 1: Intro to Geology – 4 days
A. Earth Science Concepts
(Geologic time scale; plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism; seasons; solar intensity)
B. The Atmosphere
(Composition; structure; weather and climate; atmospheric circulation and the Coriolis Effect;
atmosphere–ocean interactions; ENSO)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Plotting Volcanic Activity – using USGS data, the students will plot recent seismic activity on
a world map, displaying which portions of the world see the most seismic activity and revealing
the location of the Ring of Fire. (one class periods)
2. Insolation – students will calculate the incoming solar angle for various latitudes to determine
how the energy received at the surface varies with distance from the equator. (1 class period)
3. Video: How Do We Get Seasons? – video clip reveals that many Harvard graduates do not
correctly understand why different seasons occur. Demonstration using flashlights, cooking
thermometers, and globes ( ½ class period)
Unit 2: Geologic Resources – 4 days
A. Global Water Resources and Use
(Freshwater/saltwater; ocean circulation; agricultural, industrial, and domestic use; surface and
groundwater issues; global problems; conservation)
B. Soil and Soil Dynamics
(Rock cycle; formation; composition; physical and chemical properties)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Speaker: Justin Smith, Water Training Institute (1 class period)
2. Field Investigation: Water Quality Lab: Students will test the creek water for pollutants and
determine flow characteristics
3. Soil Composition and Quality Lab: Students will bring in various soil samples and conduct
physical and chemical properties such as PH, density, composition, N, P, and K to determine soil
type and quality (1 class)
II: The Living World
Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics – 7 days
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)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Field Investigation: Stream Ecology: Students will capture and identify organisms from the
creek. Data will be compiled along with corresponding habitat. (continuous throughout the year
– Formal lab report required)
2. Owl Pellet Investigations – students will dissect owl pellets, using the recovered bones to
create a ―model of the ingested prey. Students will use the information to make conjectures
regarding food chains and ecological pyramids. (one class period)
3. Complex Food Web – working in groups of four, students will create a complex food web for
a biome/ecosystem of their choice. The students must show all levels (producer – tertiary
consumer, decomposers, etc.) and trace the movement of energy through the ecosystem. (one
class period)
4. Biogeochemical Cycle Presentations - student groups will present/teach the class information
related to biogeochemical cycles and the conservation of matter. Each student group will
determine how they choose to present the information and each lesson must include an activity to
help their fellow classmates reach a deeper level of learning regarding the subject. (two class
III: Population
Unit 4: Population and Impacts – 7 days
A. Population Biology Concepts
(Population ecology; carrying capacity; reproductive strategies; survivorship)
B. Human population dynamics
(Historical population sizes; distribution; fertility rates; growth rates and doubling times;
demographic transition; age-structure diagrams)
C. Population size
(Strategies for sustainability; case studies; national policies)
D. Impacts of population growth
(Hunger; disease; economic effects; resource use; habitat destruction)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Field Investigation: Insect Habitat Analysis at State Park ( ½ day excursion)
2. Field Investigation: Iotic Population Sampling – students will collect organisms from the creek
and compile data. Information will be compared to previous collections to determine population
changes in response to time. (continuous throughout the year)
3. Power of the Pyramids – students will analyze population pyramids for one nation using
census data – one pyramid will represent the 2009 population, the other the projected 2030
population. They will also investigate their country’s population data, including infant mortality,
life expectancy, etc. (one class period)
3. Nation Report – using the same country from the ―Power of the Pyramids‖ activity, every
student will construct and present a poster detailing the environmental condition of their country,
including population density, major environmental challenges, major energy sources, etc. (twothree class periods)
IV: Land and Water Use
Unit 5: Land Use and Management: 5 days
B. Forestry
(Tree plantations; old growth forests; forest fires; forest management; national forests)
C. Rangelands
(Overgrazing; deforestation; desertification; rangeland management; federal rangelands)
D. Other Land Use
1. Urban land development
(Planned development; suburban sprawl; urbanization)
2. Transportation infrastructure
(Federal highway system; canals and channels; roadless 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
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Video: Succession in Blanton Forest: Students will watch a video regarding succession in
Blanton Forest (an old-growth forest in Kentucky). They will then analyze the video for forestry
management techniques. ( ¾ class period)
2. Video: The Meatrix – students will view a short animated film detailing the inherent problems
within the meat industry and learn about the need for sustainable farming practices. Students will
write a personal response to the film, including ideas as to how they can encourage sustainability
in the local cattle industry. (one class period)
2. Land-Use Planning Project – given a topographic map of a farm, student will determine the
best use for the land which will be developed into housing. Plan must include power, water, and
nature preserves. The students must then write a short summary explaining their land-use plan.
(two class periods)
Unit 6: Natural Economics – 4 days
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; laws)
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)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Speaker: Manager from the local Scott Rock Quarry will be invited to discuss environmental
concerns addressed during their mining operations. (one class period)
2. Tragedy of the Commons Lab - working in groups of four, students will run a simulation
showing how over use of a common resource can lead to its depletion. This simulation is
specifically geared to target the practice of overfishing. / (one class period)
V: Energy Resources and Consumption
Unit 7: Energy Resources – 8 days
A. Energy Concepts
(Energy forms; power; units; conversions; Laws of Thermo dynamics)
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; CAFE 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
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Carbon Footprint – students will determine how much energy they use in their personal lives
Students will research and present ways to lower their energy consumption and the consumption
of the school. (one class period with pre-lab homework)
2: Speaker: Member of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet will come and discuss
the issues our state is facing in balancing energy needs with natural resource preservation.
3. Alternate Energy Report – student groups will research alternative energy possibilities,
presenting their findings to the class. Students will teach their classmates the essential
information relating to each type of alternative energy, including both positive and negative
aspects of each. (one week)
4: Speaker: Rural Electric Cooperative will come and speak to students about the current and
future energy needs and how greener energy will be developed/used.
VI: Pollution
Unit 8: Pollution Types – 10 days
A. Pollution Types
1. Air pollution
(Sources—primary and secondary; major air pollutants; measurement units; smog; 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; groundwater pollution; maintaining
water quality; water purification; sewage treatment/septic systems; Clean Water Act and other
relevant laws)
4. Solid waste
(Types; disposal; reduction)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Collecting and Testing Acidity of Rainwater – throughout the year students will collect the pH
of the karst-based creek water. A running tabulation will be kept within the classroom; students
will postulate reasons for pH fluctuations throughout the year. (continuous throughout the year)
2. Air Pollution of Cars - students will investigate air pollution as a result of incomplete
combustion within car engines. A sock will be used to collect particulates coming from a various
car’s tailpipes. The students will then be able to examine these particulates under a microscope.
Students will also learn about the effects of CO2 and CO on climate change. (two class periods)
3. Field Trip: Sewage Treatment Plant and Landfill – students will visit the sewage treatment
plant and landfill to determine how waste products are prepared/safely disposed of to minimize
environmental hazards.
4. Speaker: Roberta Burnes, Environmental Education Specialist from the Ky Division for Air
Quality will come and discuss the pollution problems faced by our state and what can be done to
reduce the risks/pollutants.
Unit 9: Hazards and Impacts on the Environment – 6 days
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; biomagnification; relevant laws)
C. Economic Impacts
(Cost-benefit analysis; externalities; marginal costs; sustainability)
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Air Particulates at BCHS – students will create devices to catch air particulates within school.
After a number of days the students will collect and bring the devices back to class,
investigating, with microscopes and petri-dishes, what air particulates and microbes exist within
the building air ducts and will prepare a report for the SBDM committee regarding whether the
air ducts require cleaning. (three class periods)
2. Exxon Valdez videos – students will compare and contrast two film’s response to the ExxonValdez oil spill. One film (Outrage at the Valdez) presents the disaster from an
environmentalist’s stand-point while another film (Scientists and the Alaska Oil Spill) presents
the information from the stand-point of Exxon. Students will then discuss the effect of ―spin on
new reporting in regards to environmental issues. (one class period)
3. Speaker: Gary Fancher, manager of the Region 3 office of the Ky Division of Emergency
Management will come and speak to students about environmental hazards and mitigation efforts
to contain chemical spills and reduce environmental hazards.
VII: Global Change
Unit 10: Global Atmospheric Interactions – 10 days
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 – chapters 6, 11
1. Habitat loss; overuse; pollution; introduced species; endangered and extinct species
2. Maintenance through conservation
3. Relevant laws and treaties
Associated Lab Procedures and Activities:
1. Ozone Testing – students will create and use test stripes to test for the presence of tropospheric
ozone; the class will compile the data to research the possibility of trends within the data set.
(one class period)
2. Six Degrees Video – students will view the documentary film, Six Degrees, which details the
vast environmental effects of climate change upon Earth. (one class period)
3. Species Project – students will research and write an article for an invasive species affecting
our state. The article must include how the species was introduced, what other species it
negatively effects, reasons for its success, graphics, etc. Articles will be published in the local
paper (two class periods with independent research/writing time)
4. Speaker: Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission’s Western Regional Preserve Manager
will be invited to speak to students about the biodiversity, indicator species and
threatened/endangered species found within our region of the state.
Grading Policy:
Your grades will be based upon the following categories: Classwork & Homework 40%, Labs
25%, Tests 30% and Notebooks 5%. If you are in danger of failing - or if your grades fall below
passing, I will contact your parents. Grades are updated every Friday and on days following an
exam. Please check your grades so there are no surprises. If you are struggling in class you
should consider coming in for additional help.
Students are to place their name and date on all assignments. Maintaining a notebook is
mandatory and essential to the class and your grade. You are required to keep a binder to keep
daily notes, handouts and all returned assignments. You are also required to record all
homework, project, quiz or exam dates in your agenda book. Papers to be turned in should be
placed in the appropriate folder in the front of the room at the beginning of class. All work must
be turned in on time to receive full credit. You may turn work in early if you wish. To be fair to
those who have done their work on time, assignments late by one day will be counted
50 percent and no assignments will be accepted after 2 days. Individuals with extenuating
circumstances should see me outside of class.
Attendance Policy: Students have an equivalent number of days to makeup missing work as the
length of the excused absence. Work may be made up before or after school and must be
scheduled with the course instructor. Any work not made-up within the allowed time period or
missed due to an unexcused absence will be assigned a zero. Individuals with extenuating
circumstances need to see me regarding extensions.
Semester Test: Biology will have an end of course assessment administered by the state
approximately 2 weeks before the semester ends. This will count as the final exam and is
required for all students.
Plagiarism / Academic Dishonesty Policy: Plagiarism and academic dishonesty are serious
offenses. The academic work of a student is expected to be his/her own effort. Students must
give the author(s) credit for any source material used. To represent ideas or interpretations taken
from a source without giving credit is a flagrant act. To present a borrowed passage after having
changed a few words, even if the source is cited, is also plagiarism. Students who commit any act
of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade in that portion of the course work. Acts of
academic dishonesty will be reported to the administration.
I have read the course syllabus for ______________ and I understand the expectations and
requirements for this course.
Parent Signature: __________________
Student Signature: __________________
Syllabus has been signed, returned and recorded. It is to be placed in the student’s notebook
and will be a part of each unit check until the end of the course.
Teacher Signature: ___________________