AP ES Syllabus

COURSE SYLLABUS: AP Environmental Science

Teacher: Mrs. Barbara Cushing

Email: bcushing@sonoranacademy.org
Website: bcushing.sonoranacademy.org

Room #: 100

Voice mail #: 665-3400 ext 100
Email is checked more frequently.)

Welcome to AP Environmental Science!  I am excited to have all of you in my class this year.

Course Prerequisites
The prerequisites for AP Environmental Science include high school biology and chemistry.  At least one year of high school algebra is expected. This is a college-level course.  You will be expected to take responsibility for your own education.

Course Overview
As stated in the Course Description for AP Environmental Science, this course is “designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester introductory college course in environmental science” that includes a laboratory and field investigation component.  Emphasis is placed on “the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required for understanding the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them.” 

Botkin/Keller, Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet, 6th ed., 2005

Required Class Materials
Loose-leaf Notebook & Paper for Handouts and Lecture Notes
One Composition Notebook (NO Spiral Bound or Tear Out notebooks allowed) -- will be used for labs
Writing Utensils - Pens, Pencils
Additional supplies – Colored Pencils, Glue Sticks, 4 x 6 Index Cards, Scotch Tape (will inform class when these are needed)

Academic Expectations
This is a very fast-paced course. You will be expected to do reading and note-taking outside of class in order to be prepared for each day’s work. In order for you to master the content required by this course, you must be disciplined and committed to keep up with this fast pace.

Staying current on the reading assignments are an integral part of preparing for the AP ES exam. Extra reading (journal articles and current events) as well as projects will be assigned throughout the semester. This is an essential part of the course, because your textbook is only one of many resources that we will use.

As mentioned, I expect students to keep up with their reading, as reading quizzes will be given regularly as discussed in class. Students should prepare for class as instructed, and read additional material on the assigned subjects to gain further insight and depth of the subject matter.  It is imperative that students complete all assignments thoroughly. All questions are to be answered completely. All written answers are to be answered using complete sentences. All mathematical calculation problems are to be solved showing the original question, any formulas used, all steps in the solution, and the final answer with the correct significant figures and appropriate units. Any assignment that does not meet these criteria will receive zero credit. Any assignment that is not easily legible will receive zero credit. Any assignment that is deemed by the instructor to be cut and paste beyond reasonable doubt will not be accepted.

Since this is a college level class, you are given the freedom to organize your notes in a way that works best for you.  Having said that, you are responsible for keeping a portfolio off ALL of your work from the class (labs, activities, notes, etc.) so that if a college asks for proof that it was a lab class, you can provide them with what they need.

If you have any questions or concerns as to whether or not
AP Environmental Science is the course for you at this time,
do not hesitate to talk to me about finding an alternative course.

Objective of Course
The goal of the AP Environmental Science Course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, & methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, solutions for resolving and/ or preventing them.

As mentioned above, this course was designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in Environmental Science.  Unlike most other college introductory level science courses, environmental science is offered from a wide variety of departments, including geology, biology, environmental studies, environmental science, chemistry and geography.

The following themes provide a foundation for the structure of the AP Environmental Science course:

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

Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes
        -- Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere
        -- As energy flows through systems, at each step more of it becomes unusable.

The Earth itself is one interconnected system.
        -- Natural systems change over time and space
        -- Biogeochemical systems vary in ability to recover from disturbances.

Humans alter natural systems.
        -- Humans have had an impact on the environment for millions of years.
        -- Technology and population growth have enabled humans to increase both the rate and scale of their impact on the environment.

Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.
        -- Understanding the role of cultural, social, and economic factors is vital to the development of solutions.

Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems

Success in AP Environmental Science depends on the realization and appreciation of the course being on a college level. Students should expect to spend a minimum of one hour of study time per hour of class time. Students should also be prepared to spend considerable time outside of class for reading assignments and preparation for the AP exam.

Instruction consists mostly of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and written assignments—including research projects, in-class assignments, homework, formal laboratory reports, current event article analysis and reflective writing.  Approximately one period every other week is devoted to hands-on laboratory experiences or fieldwork.  All lab and fieldwork requires a written analysis.  As often as possible, the course is related to local environmental issues and concerns.  Students are asked to critically examine various solutions for resolving or preventing local environmental problems.   

Laboratory and Field Investigations
Students must be prepared to work outdoors for many of the labs.  Laboratory and field investigations are designed to complement the lecture portion of the course by providing opportunities to learn about the environment through firsthand observations, to test concepts and principles which have been introduced in class, to explore specific issues and problems in greater depth, and to gain an awareness of the importance of confounding variables which exist in the real world. Investigations will be diverse and will include indoor laboratory activities, outdoor activities, as well as field experience outside the confines of the campus. The labs are designed to invite students to think critically, to observe environmental systems, to develop and conduct well designed experiments, to utilize appropriate techniques and instrumentation, to analyze and interpret data, to present data orally and in the form of statistical and graphical presentations, to apply concepts to the solution of environmental problems, to form conclusions and to propose further study.  There will be a Saturday lab commitment about every 4 - 6 weeks.

Some examples of lab and fieldwork topics include ecosystem dynamics, population studies, energy consumption, air and water quality, land use planning, solid waste management, and the greenhouse effect. The purpose of all lab activities is to 1) think critically about environmental systems, 2) develop and conduct well-designed experiments, 3) utilize appropriate techniques and equipment, 4) analyze and interpret data including statistical and graphical presentations, 5) apply concepts to the solution of environmental problems, 6) form conclusions and evaluate their quality and validity, 7) propose further questions for study, and 8) communicate accurately about observations and conclusions. Students will maintain a separate laboratory notebook.

Student Assessment
Students are given an examination at the conclusion of each unit.  No notes or resources may be used on these exams.  Exams may consist of multiple-choice questions similar to AP exam questions and a free response essay question.  Answers must be detailed and explanatory in nature. 

Students will be expected to keep a detailed lab notebook of their experiments and hands-on activities.  No spiral notebooks are permitted. These notebooks will be graded after completion of each lab and returned to the student. Exams, projects, lab notebooks, problem sets, journal analysis and responses, current events, reading quizzes, and writing assignments both in class and for homework are included in their final grade. Calculators are not allowed on exams or quizzes, as calculators are not allowed on the AP exam. 


50%                    Exams                                                                             
15%                    Quizzes (at beginning of class)                                      
35%                    Labs /Projects/Daily & Homework Assignments

Grading Scale
90-100% A
80-89% B
70-79% C
65-69% D
Below 65 F

Plagiarism and cheating are serious matters. Plagiarism means copying someone else’s words, ideas, or information and presenting it as your own work. This includes copying and printing information from the internet and representing it as your own work. We will discuss how to properly put other’s work in your own words and give them credit when you do research in the library or online.  Copying or using another student’s work is also considered cheating. School policy will be applied in cases of plagiarism and cheating.

Missed/Late Work:
Assignments are expected to be on time. Late work will not be accepted.  Work is late if it is not turned in at the beginning of class.  Missing assignments receive a zero. For larger projects, 10% of the grade will be deducted for each day the project or paper is late. When the grade reaches 50%, the assignment will no longer be accepted.

The exception to this rule is the science fair project. This project has a definitive due date, as NO projects will be accepted after the due date. As the science fair project is a major component of all students’ grades, students must ensure that the project is turned in on or before the assigned due date.

Students with excused absences have one day for each day missed to complete assignments. Labs, tests, and other activities should be made up during the next scheduled tutoring time following the absence.

Making Up Work When Absent:
If students must miss class, they are responsible for making up any missed assignments. It is the students’ responsibility to find out what assignments they missed by talking to a classmate or checking the classroom planner. Students are also responsible for borrowing any missed class notes from a classmate and copying them into their notebooks. If they know they are going to be absent, it will be in their best interest to ask for the assignments ahead of time so that they do not fall behind.

** teacher reserves the right to amend the activities and timelines as best suits the needs of the students

-- Follow directions.
-- Enter the classroom quietly, be in your seat on time, and begin bell work/reading assignment.
-- Be prepared. (Arrive with paper, pencil, homework, science notebook, etc.)
-- Be polite. (Be quiet or use an inside voice during group work. Keep your hands to yourself. Raise your hand to speak. One person speaks at a time, etc.)
-- Be on task and engaged. (Work on the given assignment or participate in the current discussion.)

-- Eye contact
-- Verbal warning
-- DPS points and / or removal from activity
-- Phone call home
-- Students consistently requiring some level of correction in spite of interventions (seat changes, phone calls home, etc.) will be given a referral to the principal.

Science Fair
All students will participate in the science fair and will design and conduct an independent experiment/investigation for this project. This is an in-depth, independent project that will be presented in steps. It will be introduced in August, and will be worked on throughout the first semester and into the second. The project will be a major component of each student’s grade.


Please note that this syllabus is subject to change.  Because the school’s primary goal is to maximize student achievement, material may be added, deleted, and/or substituted at the teacher's discretion based on individual needs, levels, and learning styles of each class. Creative projects, written assignments, & supplemental material may also be included throughout the year as opportunities arise.

 Finally let me say, I expect you to be successful in my class. I have very high expectations for my students both behaviorally and academically and I’m very confident that you will meet or exceed those expectations.