Longwood High School / Science Department
AP Environmental Science

Draft Outline of Topics for AP Environmental Science

  1. Scientific Analysis
  2. Interdependence of Earth's Systems
  3. Human Population Dynamics
  4. Renewable & Nonrenewable Resources
  5. Environmental Quality
  6. Global Changes and Their Consequences
  7. Environment & Society
  8. Choices for the Future
I. Scientific Analysis
A. Observing the Natural World and Developing Hypotheses
B. Collecting Data
  1. observation
  2. controlled experiments
C. Modeling
D. Critical Interpretation of Data
II. Interdependence of Earth's Systems: Fundamental Principles and Concepts
A. The Flow of Energy
  1. forms and quality of energy
  2. energy units and measurement
  3. sources and sinks, conversions
B. The Cycling of Matter
  1. water
  2. carbon
  3. major nutrients
  4. a. nitrogen
    b. phosphorus
  5. differences between cycling of major and trace elements
C. The Solid Earth
  1. E arth history and the geologic time scale
  2. Earth dynamics: plate tectonics, volcanism, the rock cycle, soil formation
D. The Atmosphere
  1. atmospheric history: origin, evolution, composition, structure
  2. atmospheric dynamics: weather, climate
E. The Biosphere
  1. organisms: adaptations to their environments
  2. populations and communities: exponential growth, carrying capacity
  3. ecosystems and change: biomass, energy transfer, succession
  4.  evolution of life: natural selection, extinction
III. Human Population Dynamics
A. History and Global Distribution
  1. numbers
  2. demographics, such as birth rates and death rates
  3. patterns of resource utilization
B. Carrying Capacity -- Local, Regional, Global
C. Cultural and Economic Influences
IV. Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources: Distribution, Ownership, Use, Degradation
A. Water
  1. fresh: agricultural, industrial, domestic
  2. oceans: fisheries, industrial
B. Minerals
C. Soils
  1. soil types
  2. erosion and conservation
D. Biological
  1. natural areas
  2. genetic diversity
  3. food and other agricultural products
E. Energy
  1. conventional sources
  2. alternative sources
F. Land
  1. residential and commercial
  2. agricultural and forestry
  3. recreational and wilderness
V. Environmental Quality
A. Air/Water/Soil
  1. major pollutants
  2. a. types, such as SO2, NOx, and pesticides
    b. measurement and units of measure such as ppm, pH, micrograms
    c. point and nonpoint sources (domestic, industrial, agricultural)
  3. effects of pollutants on:
  4. a. aquatic systems
    b. vegetation
    c. natural features, buildings and structures
    d. wildlife
  5. pollution reduction, remediation, and control
B. Solid Waste
  1. types, sources, and amounts
  2. current disposal methods and their limitations
  3. alternatives
C. Impact on Human Health
  1. agents: chemical and biological
  2. effects: acute and chronic, dose-response relationships
  3. relative risks: evaluation and response
VI. Global Changes and Their Consequences
A. First-order Effects
  1. atmosphere: CO2, CH4, stratospheric O3
  2. oceans: surface temperatures, currents, sea level
  3. biota: habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, introduced exotics
B. Higher-order Interactions
  1. CO2 - photosynthesis
  2. ocean currents - climate and biological communities
  3. ultraviolet light - cell damage
VII. Environment and Society: Trade-Offs and Decision Making
A. Economic Forces
  1. cost-benefit analysis
  2. marginal costs
  3. ownership and externalized costs
B. Cultural and Aesthetic Considerations
C. Environmental Ethics
D. Environmental Laws and Regulations (International, National, and Regional)
VIII. Choices for the Future
A. Conservation
B. Preservation
C. Remediation
D. Sustainability
Laboratory and Field Investigation in AP Environmental Science

The goal of the laboratory and field investigation component of the AP Environmental Science course is to complement the classroom portion by allowing students to learn about the environment through firsthand observation. Experiences both in the laboratory and in the field provide students with important opportunities to test concepts and principles that are introduced in the classroom, explore specific problems with a depth not easily achieved otherwise, and gain an awareness of the importance of confounding variables that exist in the "real world". In these experiences students can employ alternative learning styles to reinforce fundamental concepts and principles.

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