Advanced Placement Environmental Science

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Advanced Placement Environmental Science
John A. Rhude

Nicolet High School District

6701 North Jean Nicolet Drive

Glendale, WI

Cell Phone 262-271-1197

Work Phone 414-351-8246

AP Environmental Science 3rd, 5th , 6th, 7th

Biology 1st

Office Hours 6:30 am – 7:00 am, 2nd hour, 4th hour, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm.

Course Profile
AP Environmental Science is a one-year lab based science course that will 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 manmade, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. This course is a lab based class which will spend a great deal of time outdoors.
The class consists of lecture, discussion, laboratory activities and field studies. Students will spend a minimum of one complete period per week in the collection of field or laboratory data, but more often than not will spend more than two periods per week working on labs. The school owns a wooded plot of land approximately three acres in size immediately behind the school. The woods contains many mature deciduous trees including Burr Oak, Red Oak, White Oak, Sugar and Red Maple and Shagbark Hickory. The area also includes many native forbs including red trillium, white trillium, shooting star, wild geranium, may apple and jack in the pulpit. The woods will be used for many of the topics that we will study throughout the year. Adjacent to the woods the Milwaukee River allows students to do water quality studies. The class will also be participating in spring and fall field trips.
Course Prerequisites
Students must have completed biology with a C or better, must have completed college prep chemistry or be concurrent with accelerated chemistry and have completed algebra. Their previous science instructor must also recommend the student.
Miller, G. Tyler. Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions. 15th edition. Belmont, Calif.: Brooks/Cole, 2007.
Suggested Books

Kaplan AP Environmental Science 2008 Edition.
Barron’s AP Environmental Science, 2nd edition
The Princeton Review, Cracking the AP Environmental Science Exam, 2008 edition
Materials Needed For Course

  • 1” to 2” three ringed binder

  • Laboratory Notebook

  • Text Book

  • Pencils/Pens

Student Evaluation
Student’s grades are determined based on the following assessments.

  • Quizzes (15%). Weekly quizzes are given to evaluate the students understanding of reading material, lecture, laboratory activities and classroom discussion. Quizzes typically consist of 5 – 20 multiple choice or fill in the blank questions.

  • Homework and Objective Questions (15%). Objective questions are assigned and graded during the year that will correspond to reading assignments or other classroom activities. These objective questions are extremely important as they reflect important content within the course and allow students to practice writing is essay form.

  • Tests (40%). Major tests will be given after each unit. Tests consist of 40 – 60 multiple choice questions from recent APES exams, text book, or personally generated. Essay questions will also be a part of the unit tests. Students will be given a set of essay questions one week prior to the exam to research and prepare answers. The day of the exam each essay question # will be placed in a hat, one student will choose a number, and that will be the essay question they answer on the exam, without any notes. Each test may have one, two or three essays to write on.

  • Laboratory journals and Write Ups (30%). Students are required to keep a laboratory data notebook. This notebook will be collected and graded as labs are completed. Students will also have formal lab write ups to turn in one week after completion of major laboratories.

  • Final Exam and Final Project (20% of overall semester grades). Students will be required to complete a cumulative final exam after completion of the first semester. The second semester final will consist of a group project. NO EXAM EXEMPTIONS WILL BE ALLOWED!!!!

Course Syllabus
Introduction and Environmental Issues (ch 1)

Environmental Issues and pollution

Worldviews and attitudes toward the environment

Labs and Activities

  • Environmental Issues Investigations – photos

  • Environmental Impact Poster: Students research raw materials used to manufacture a product, describe the life cycle of the product from raw materials through manufacturing, use, and disposal of the product. Students will also demonstrate the use of the equation I=PxAxT

  • Tragedy of the Commons Activity

  • Field Trip: International Crane Foundation and Aldo Leopold Center

  • Video – Race to Save the Planet

  • Video – The Lorax, The Truax (Article)

  • Video – Love of the Land

  • Video – National Geographic Human Footprint

Forests and Terrestrial Ecosystems (ch. 10,3 )

Food Chains and webs

Succession in terrestrial ecosystems

Energy flow

Land use in the United States and the World, including laws to manage public lands

Forest Management, past, present and future

Forest Tool Use

Sampling Techniques (point quarter sampling, quadrat sampling)

Labs and Activities

  • Forest Management Plan. Students will use clinometer, Biltmore stick, merritt hypsometer, diameter tape, tree identification guide and GPS system to survey the Nicolet woods. Using either quadrat or point quarter sampling techniques students will sample the Nicolet woods and prepare a forest management plan. Density, relative density, frequency, coverage and importance values will be determined from collected data.

  • Hubbard Creek Graphing assignment

  • Speaker Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Forester

  • Video – The Greatest Good: A history of the United States Forest Service

  • Video – History of Forestry in Wisconsin

Soil, Conservation, Minerals, Mining, Land Use (ch. 13,15)

Soil Formation, characteristics, profile

Reading a soil triangle

Physical and chemical characteristics of soil

Nutrient cycles

Salinization and desertification


Erosion, Degradation, Conservation

Urban and rural land use

Land use policy and the law

Labs and Activities

  • Physical Characteristics of Soil Lab: Students will dig a soil pit and take samples from the various horizons identified. Physical characteristics of sand, clay, humus and unknown samples of local soil will be compared as to the texture, permeability, capillary action, water holding capacity.

  • Chemical Characteristics of Soil Lab: Students will look at the chemical characteristics of soil from various locations throughout the area. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and pH will be measured along with Ion Exchange experiments.

  • Acid deposition Lab

  • Field Trip – Glacial landforms of the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest

  • Video – Food Inc.

  • Video – Bill Nye genetically modified foods

  • Video – Glaciers Alaska’s Rivers of Ice

  • Video – (history channel) How the earth was made

  • Video – (USGS) Living Rock

Water, Water Pollution (ch 6,12,14,21)

Water cycle

Nutrient cycles


Water quality and the law

Surface and Ground water

Surface and groundwater pollution

Wastewater Treatment

Labs and Activities

  • Water quality testing in the Milwaukee River. Students will test Dissolved Oxygen, phosphorus, nitrates, biological oxygen demand, coliform bacteria and a macro-invertebrate study. Students will do the study in the fall, winter and spring. The data collected by the classes will be shared with local universities and the Testing the Waters Program.

  • Chemical and physical analysis of Natural Water

  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan

  • Field Trip: Wastewater treatment facility Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

  • Video – World Water Wars

Air (ch. 19,20)

Global Warming

Air and Air Pollution

Ozone Depletion

Air Quality and the law
Labs and Activities

  • Estimating Air Pollution Generated by Everyday Activities (Field and Laboratory Exercises in Environmental Science). Students will understand the significance of particulate pollutants, become familiar with air sampling techniques, appreciate the role of weather in air pollution problems and determine whether his or her environment is free of air pollutants.

  • Video – Inconvenient Truth: Al Gore

  • Video – Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring

Populations (ch. 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11)

Population Dynamics

Carrying Capacity

Human Populations: Survivorship curves and age structure diagrams, demography



Labs and Activities

  • Human Population – Changes in Survival: Cemetery lab (Field and Laboratory Exercises in Environmental Science)

  • Age Sex Histograms – Students use census data to construct age-sex pyramids. Such pyramids, representing several countries in various stages of development, are discussed and compared. Students then explore how the population would be affected by factors such as natural and human made disasters as well as social, economic, and political changes.

  • Estimating Population of Daphnia pulex by Hayne’s and Zippern’s Methods

  • Elk and Vegetation Management Plan: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

  • Whitetailed deer population in Wisconsin

  • Video – World in Balance

Energy (ch. 16, 17, 18)

Nonrenewable Mineral and Energy Resources

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Labs and Activities

  • Economics of Energy Consumption (Field and Laboratory Exercises in Environmental Science). Students will monitor their own energy consumption

  • Personal Energy Consumption (Field and Laboratory Exercises in Environmental Science). Students will be able to calculate energy loss from various appliances, dripping water faucets, and examine the implications of an individual’s lifestyle on energy consumption.

  • Field Trip: Johnson Controls

  • Video – Bill Nye Nuclear Energy

  • Video – Bill Nye Transportation

  • Video – Green Energy

Sustaining Human Societies (ch. 23, 24, 25, 26)





Solid and hazardous Waste (ch. 22)



Integrated Waste Management

Labs and Activities

  • Personal Solid Waste Inventory: Students will become more aware of their overall resource use (number and type of materials) and more familiar with various approaches which may reduce the number of overall “throughputs” they have in a given period of time.

  • Field Trip: Wastewater Treatment Plant – MMSD

  • Video – Erin Brockovich

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