happy ape AP Environmental Science 2015-2016

Instructor:  Lauren Mezzetti



Welcome to APES!

Get ready for an exciting AP course that includes lectures, field investigations, scientific journal reviews and discussions, laboratory exercises and assessments that are designed to be the equivalent to a first year college level Environmental Science course.   Our goal is to successfully pass the AP Environmental exam with a qualifying score of 3 or better which you will take in May.  But, another important goal of this course is also to expose you to environmental issues that affect your life and environment.  We will study the human impact on our environment, both positive and negative.  This course is designed to provide in-depth explorations that will get you to think critically and make informed decisions that will help you and your community to work towards sustainability.

Course Description 

“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 man-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them.”     AP Environmental Science Course Description – The College Board

Course Prerequisites

B or better in Biology, Chemistry and Algebra

Methods:  Class sessions consist of 5 blocks @ 52 minutes and 1 90 minute block in a 7 day cycle.  All 90 minute classes will consist of field or lab explorations with the following 52 minute class for data analysis and writing individual or collaborative formal lab reports.  4 classes will consist of lectures, discussions, group work/activities using lab or computer technology for investigations and assessments.  Homework will consist of watching video lectures and answering study guide questions that are aligned with the textbook, writing journal reviews, math practice, posting opinions and participating in discussions on class BlackBoard site.  Projects will be assigned with the first being a summer assignment, visiting ecosystems in Lynn.  Students will conduct a research project on a topic in environmental science and write a final research paper at the end of the course.

The AP Environmental Science exam will contain math problems in the multiple choice and open response questions.  You ARE NOT allowed to use a calculator on the exam, so you need to be diligent with the math practice and complete the problems in class and for homework.  We will work on the math as we go along.  Make sure you do the “Do the Math” in the blue boxes in your textbook-these are extremely helpful.


  • Lab Manuals:
  • Laboratory Investigations for Environmental Science for AP by Nat Draper and Courtney Mayer, 2012 Freeman and Company Publishing.
  • AP Environmental Science Laboratory Investigations. Molnar, William. Saddle Brook, NJ: Peoples Publishing 2005.

Review Books

  • Cracking the AP Environmental Science Exam (Princeton Review)
  • Strive for a 5 (Courtney Mayer) –goes along with our textbook


  • You need a 3 ring binder with 7 dividers
  • Notebook paper or a notebook that fits into the binder for notes
  • Folder for labs, handouts and assessments
  • Composition Notebook (Black and White) for lab work
  • Colored pencils, pack of 12
  • ALWAYS come to class prepared with a pen or pencil, preferably both


  • Be safe. Follow all lab safety procedures and rules for field work. Work carefully in the lab and in the field.  Please, no food or drink in the classroom, this is a sanitary issue.
  • Please do not interrupt our class and learning time to ask to go to the bathroom, go before or after class. Time will be made up at 2:30 for the amount of time out of the classroom.
  • All school rules (dress code, cell phones, etc.) apply in the classroom, in the field, and on field trips.
  • Take the AP Environmental exam, given May 2, 2016.


  • Tests/Quizzes – 60%
  • Labs/Projects – 25%
  • Homework Assignments – 15%


End of chapter quizzes will consist of AP-style multiple choice questions and one Free Response.  End of unit tests will consist of AP-style multiple choice questions and free response questions (FRQs) that have been released from previous APES exams.  The time allotted for each quiz and test will be in accordance to the time allotted on the AP exam (100 multiple choice questions in 90 minutes and four FRQs in 90 minutes).  Some assessments will be taken online on the Blackboard site.

The AP Environmental Science exam is on Monday, May 2, 2016 at 8:00 am.  All students enrolled in the course are expected to take the test.

Keep a Neat and Organized Binder

Some colleges or universities will ask to see your coursework before giving credit for the course.  Keep all your work-in-progress, completed work, and your lab notebook in your binder.


AP Environmental Science Themes

1. Science is a process.

a. Science is a method of learning more about the world.
b. Science constantly changes the way we understand the world.

2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.

a. Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere.
b. As energy flows through systems, at each step more of it becomes unusable.

3. The Earth itself is one interconnected system.

a. Natural systems changes over time and space.
b. Biogeochemical systems vary in ability to recover from disturbances.

4. Humans alter natural ecosystems.

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

a. Understanding the role of cultural, social, and economic factors is vital to the development of solutions.
b. Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.

AP Environmental Science Course Outline (2006)

‗ 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)

‗ 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 succession)
‗ D. Natural Ecosystem Change (Climate shifts; species movement; ecological succession)
‗ E. Natural Biogeochemical Cycles (Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, water, conservation of matter)

‗ 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)

‗ 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; 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; road less areas; ecosystem impacts)
‗ E. Mining
(Mineral formation; extractional; global reserves; relevant laws and treaties)
‗ F. Fishing
(Fishing techniques; over fishing; aquaculture; relevant laws and treaties)
‗ G. Global Economics
(Globalization; World Bank; Tragedy of the Commons; relevant laws and treaties)

‗ A. Energy Concepts
(Energy forms; power; units; conversions; Laws of Thermodynamics)
‗ B. Energy Consumption
1. History (Industrial Revolution)
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 demands; synfuels; environmental advantages/ disadvantages of sources)
‗ D. Nuclear Energy
(Nuclear fission processes; nuclear fuel; electricity production; nuclear reactor types; environmental advantages/disadvantages; safety issues; radiation and human health; radioactive wastes; nuclear fission)
‗ 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 advantages/disadvantages)

VI. POLLUTION (25-30%)
‗ 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)
‗ 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)

‗ Stratospheric Zone
(Formation of stratospheric ozone; ultraviolet radiation;causes of ozone depletion; strategies for reducing ozone depletion; relevant laws and treaties)
‗ 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