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Environmental Science

Course Overview

Environmental Science is designed to introduce students to major ecological concepts as well as the interactions between humans and their environment. In this course students will investigate various environmental problems that affect the world in which we live. Students will become familiar 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 human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them.

Students will meet the following objectives in this class:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the nature of science including scientific methods. Show a basic ability to organize, interpret, analyze, and evaluate scientific data.
  • Consistently synthesizes basic formal lab write ups including introduction, hypothesis, materials, procedures/methods, data, and forming conclusions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how the natural world works in terms of basic principles of ecology, and understand the relationships between humans and the environment, and how human impacts on earth have changed through history.
  • Predict possible outcomes of changes to the natural environment using an analysis of the flow of energy and matter through living and nonliving components.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of various environmental issues including their causes and consequences. Recognize the major environmental challenges facing modern societies, and understand the choices and trade-offs these challenges pose, and be able to critically consider the pros and cons of various sides of these environmental issues, in order to make educated, scientifically based decisions.
  • Adhere to laboratory safety rules and regulations. Complete work fully and on time unless previously collaboratively agreed upon between teacher and student. Participate actively and appropriately in both individual and group activities including lab work, and class discussions.


Course Content

Unit 1: Earth Systems and Resources

In this unit students will learn about the basics of the Earth’s various systems: Size of the solar system and insolation, Atmosphere and Climate, Water, Geologic time scale, Plate tectonics, Rock Cycle, Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Students will spend approximately one week on each of the topics listed to ensure they have a basic understanding of the various systems essential to Earth.

Unit 2: Ecology

In this unit, students will design an ecosystem and observe how manipulating one factor in the ecosystem will affect the remaining biotic and abiotic factors in the ecosystem. Students will focus on the interactions of abiotic and biotic factors in various ecosystems around the globe and how communities interact with one another.

Unit 3: Human Populations

In this unit, students will focus on the demographics and populations of humans around the world. Students will complete a research project which is comprised of some basic reading and questions, coupled with independent research that ties what they learned about human populations to a country of their choice looking at factors such as population, growth rates, etc.

Unit 4: Energy Resources and Consumption

In the final unit, students will learn about different forms of energy including how to calculate power and convert between different units; renewable energy types including solar, wind, nuclear fission, hydrogen fuel cells, and biomass; complete a wind energy experiment, and review the history of how our energy consumption has changed throughout human history.