• Advanced Placement Environmental Science

    Teacher: Mr. Sharp

    E-mail: dsharp@basd.net


    AP Environmental Science is a college level course equivalent to a college introductory environmental science course.  The course is designed for academically successful students who have the interest, time, commitment and ability to complete a college level biology course.  All students are expected to take the AP Environmental Science exam.


    Explore and investigate the interrelationships of the natural world, identify and analyze environmental problems, both natural and human-made, evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them.

    Major Themes

    1. Science is a process.

    2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.

    3. The Earth itself is one interconnected system.

    4. Humans alter natural systems.

    5. Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.

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

    Course Topics

    This course covers the following topics:

    Earth Systems and Resources (10%–15%)

    Earth Science Concepts (Geologic time scale; plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism; seasons; solar intensity and latitude)
    The Atmosphere (Composition; structure; weather and climate; atmospheric circulation and the Coriolis effect; atmosphere-ocean interactions; ENSO)
    Global Water Resources and Use (Freshwater/saltwater; ocean circulation; agricultural, industrial, and domestic use; surface and groundwater issues; global problems; conservation)
    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%)

    Ecosystem Structure (Biological populations and communities; ecological niches; interactions among species; keystone species; species diversity and edge effects; major terrestrial and aquatic biomes)
    Energy Flow (Photosynthesis and cellular respiration; food webs and trophic levels; ecological pyramids)
    Ecosystem Diversity (Biodiversity; natural selection; evolution; ecosystem services)
    Natural Ecosystem Change (Climate shifts; species movement; ecological succession)
    Natural Biogeochemical Cycles (Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, water, conservation of matter)
    Population (10%–15%)
    Population Biology Concepts (Population ecology; carrying capacity; reproductive strategies; survivorship)
    Human Population


    Land and Water Use (10%–15%)

    Forestry (Tree plantations; old growth forests; forest fires; forest management; national forests)
    Rangelands(Overgrazing; deforestation; desertification; rangeland management; federal rangelands)
    Other Land Use
    Mining (Mineral formation; extraction; global reserves; relevant laws and treaties)
    Fishing (Fishing techniques; overfishing; aquaculture; relevant laws and treaties)
    Global Economics (Globalization; World Bank; Tragedy of the Commons; relevant laws and treaties)
    Energy Resources and Consumption (10%–15%)
    Energy Concepts (Energy forms; power; units; conversions; Laws of Thermodynamics)
    Energy Consumption
    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)
    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)
    Hydroelectric Power (Dams; flood control; salmon; silting; other impacts)
    Energy Conservation (Energy efficiency; CAFE standards; hybrid electric vehicles; mass transit)
    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%)

    Pollution Types
    Impacts on the Environment and Human Health
    Economic Impacts (Cost-benefit analysis; externalities; marginal costs; sustainability)
    Global Change (10%–15%)
    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)
    Global Warming (Greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect; impacts and consequences of global warming; reducing climate change; relevant laws and treaties)
    Loss of Biodiversity


    Quality of Natural Waters: Biological Factors
    Quality of Natural Waters: Physical and Chemical Factors
    Soil Formation and Properties
    Soil Productivity
    Population Growth with Lemna minor
    Primary Consumer Energy Flow
    Air Pollution and Vehicle Emissions
    Acid Deposition
    Agriculture and Feeding a Growing Human Population
    Wastewater Treatment


    Excellent attitude, cooperation, behavior and diligence
    Timely and accurate completion of all assignments
    Significant time outside of class reading and preparing for class
    Preparation for labs before class
    Completion of AP Environmental Science Exam
    Enjoy yourself, do your best


    Each assignment, quiz, lab, and test will be assigned a point value.  Final percentages will be calculated by dividing total points earned by points possible. Tests usually cover one chapter. Any failed test can be re-tested with a maximum grade book score of 60%.



    Textbook: Environment : The Science Behind the Stories, Withgott and Laposata, 5th edition

    College Board AP Environmental Science  Web Site