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AP Environmental Science

Course Description

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Course Overview: The AP Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of a
one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science, through which students
engage with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the
interrelationships of the natural world. The course requires that students identify and analyze
natural and human-made environmental problems, evaluate the relative risks associated with
these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them.
Environmental Science is interdisciplinary, embracing topics from geology, biology,
environmental studies, environmental science, chemistry, and geography.

Course Content: Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics
from different areas of study. There are several unifying themes that cut across topics. The
following are course themes:

• Science is a process.
• Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.
• The Earth itself is one interconnected system.
• Humans alter natural systems.
• Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.
• Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.

Topic Outline
I. Earth Systems and Resources
II. The Living World
III. Population
IV. Land and Water Use
V. Energy Resources and Consumption
VI. Pollution
VII. Global Change

Inquiry-Based Investigations: Because it is designed to be a course in environmental science
rather than environmental studies, the AP Environmental Science course includes a strong
laboratory and field investigation component. The AP Environmental Science course requires
teachers to provide students with opportunities to perform experiments and analyses involving
the study of air, water, and soil qualities as an essential core for the lab/field investigation
activities. These investigations challenge students’ abilities to • Critically observe environmental
systems; • Develop and conduct well-designed experiments; • Utilize appropriate techniques
and instrumentation; • Analyze and interpret data, including appropriate statistical and
graphical presentations; • Think analytically and apply concepts to the solution of
environmental problems; • Make conclusions and evaluate their quality and validity; • Propose
further questions for study; and • Communicate accurately and meaningfully about
observations and conclusions.

Textbook: Environmental Science for AP, Friedland, Relyea, and Courard-Hauri, 1st Edition,
Freeman, W. H. & Company.

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