AP Environmental Science Standards and Benchmarks by Standard

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1 Scientific Inquiry: Standards 1-5 AP Environmental Science Standards and Benchmarks by Standard Standard 1. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the importance of curiosity, honesty, openmindedness, and skepticism in their own efforts to understand how and why universal phenomena exist and occur. 1. Offer different explanations for the same scientific evidence, and explain why it is not always possible to tell which explanation is best supported. 2. Know that scientists do not have models that explain all phenomena, and that current models range from the proven - the Earth is round - to the speculative - cancers are viral. 3. Critically analyze and evaluate experimental designs for accuracy, including variables, controls, adequate data sampling, and logical conclusions and suggest design improvements when appropriate. Standard 2. Students will communicate scientific ideas and activities clearly. 1. Choose appropriate summary statistics to describe group differences, always indicating the spread of the data as well as the scientific data's central tendencies. 2. Make and use tables, charts, graphs, and scale drawings to make scientific arguments and claims in oral and written presentations. Standard 3. Students will be familiar with the character of scientific knowledge and inquiry and how it is achieved. 1. Use hypotheses to guide choices of what data to pay attention to, what additional data to seek, and how to interpret both new and previously available data. 2. Explain why scientists often control conditions in experiments, and what they do when controlled conditions are not possible. 3. Explain how and why ethical considerations can limit scientific research. Standard 4. Students will be able to select and use tools and instruments to conduct scientific activities. 1. Develop and use systematic procedures for recording and organizing information. 2. Understand the applications and basic functioning of complex pieces of scientific equipment (for example, PCR, cathode ray tube) and be capable of basic troubleshooting. 3. Select the most appropriate tool for a specific, direct measurement and choose appropriate units for reporting various magnitudes. Standard 5. Students will understand and demonstrate the ideas of system, model, change, and scale in exploring scientific and technological matters. 1. Apply the concept of a system to the analysis of how things work and the design of solutions to problems, specifying the system's boundaries and subsystems, its relation to other systems, and its input and output.

2 2. Explain how systems in equilibrium may return to the same state of equilibrium when the disturbances are small and how large disturbances may destroy a system's equilibrium and eventually result in a different state of equilibrium. 3. Understand how large changes in scale typically change the way things work in physical, biological, or social systems (that is, microcosm versus macrocosm) because the changes in scale affect various properties of those systems in different degrees. 4. Describe and explain ways that systems' properties that depend on volume, such as capacity and weight, change out of proportion to properties that depend on area, such as strength or surface processes. Physical Setting: Standards 6-14 Standard 6. Students will be familiar with current scientific theories about the universe and how those theories evolved. Standard 7. Students will understand how key features of the earth influence climate, weather, and the water cycle. 1. Explain the factors that influence weather and climate, including the transfer of heat energy, the action of gravitational forces, and the rotation of the Earth. 2. Describe how weather can be influenced by global climatic patterns, such as El Niño and La Niña. 3. Describe how human activity can affect weather and climate. Standard 8. Students will understand scientific theories of how the earth's surface is formed and how those theories developed. 1. Describe how ideas on the origins and the age of the earth have developed. 2. Explain the phenomena that occur beneath the earth's surface. Standard 9. Students will know and understand scientific theories of the nature of matter and how those theories developed. 1. Describe the particles and forces that make up electrons, neutrons, and protons. 2. Understand that ions are formed by the gain or loss of electrons. 3. Explain how molecular and ionic structures determine the properties of substances. Standard 10. Students will be familiar with the forms and transformations of energy and the significance of energy in understanding the structure of matter and the universe. 1. Explain the law of conservation of matter and energy. 2. Understand that transformations of energy usually produce some energy in the form of heat. 3. Compare chemical and nuclear reactions in terms of process and energy production. 4. Understand and assess the uses of nuclear fission and fusion, including the implications for society. 2

3 Standard 11. Students will understand how society uses and conserves various sources of energy. 1. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of using nuclear energy. 2. Evaluate the impact of industry on our society and environment in terms of energy use. Standard 12. Students will understand the relationship between force, mass, and the motion of objects. 1. Understand the concept of Galileo's principle of inertia and how this laid the groundwork for Newton's laws of motion. Standard 13. Students will recognize gravitational, electrical, and magnetic forces as major kinds of forces acting in nature. Standard 14. Students will be familiar with the wave nature of sound and electromagnetic radiation. The Living Environment: Standards Standard 15. Students will be aware of the diversity of living organisms and how they can be compared scientifically. 1. Explain how variation within a species increases the chances of survival of the species under changing environmental conditions. 2. Explain how the great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some living organisms will survive in the event of major global changes. Standard 16. Students will understand the structure, functions, and reproduction of living cells and organisms. 1. Identify and discuss the characteristics of the basic elements of living organisms, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. 2. Define cancer and list causes that increase the risk of cancer. Standard 17. Students will understand how and why organisms are dependent on one another and their environments. 3

4 1. Define the impact of immigration, emigration, birth rate, and death rate on population size. 2. Identify the factors that control population fluctuations in a given ecosystem leading to dynamic equilibrium. 3. Explain how the carrying capacity of an ecosystem may change as availability of resources changes. 4. Describe stages of succession leading to a climax community. 5. Identify behavioral, morphological, and physical responses to changes in an organism's environment. 6. Give examples of natural and human-initiated environmental changes that may influences levels of harmful substances. 7. Understand how monitoring environmental factors assists scientists in determining the health of the environment (such as soil, air, or water conditions). Standard 18. Students will understand the cycling of matter and the flow and transformation of energy through systems of living things. 1. Discuss sources and sinks in matter and energy cycles. 2. Diagram and explain trophic levels in an ecosystem. 3. Describe the laws of thermodynamics and apply the principles to an ecosystem. Standard 19. Students will understand how biological traits are passed on to successive generations. 1. Discuss the ethics and implications of genetic engineering. Standard 20. Students will understand the arguments for natural selection as scientific explanation of biological evolution. 1. Explain Darwin's theory of natural selection. 2. Describe patterns of evolution (i.e., divergent, convergent, and coevolution). 3. Know that disruption of genetic equilibrium may result in evolution. Human Organisms and Society: Standards Standard 21. Students will know and understand the biological, cultural, and social explanations for why human beings have important traits in common yet differ from one another. Standard 22. Students will be familiar with important aspects of human development from fertilization to death. 1. Explain the necessity of a longer developmental period in humans as compared to other species in terms of the evolution of the human brain. Standard 23. Students will understand the basic processes of the human body. 4

5 Standard 24. Students will understand that a variety of factors influence learning in human beings. 5

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