SCI530: AP Environmental Science

This list is representative of the materials provided or used in this course. Keep in mind that the actual materials used may vary, depending on the school in which you are enrolled, and whether you are taking the course as Independent Study.

For a complete list of the materials to be used in this course by your enrolled student, please visit MyInfo. All lists are subject to change at any time.

Scope & Sequence : Scope & Sequence documents describe what is covered in a course (the scope) and also the order in which topics are covered (the sequence). These documents list instructional objectives and skills to be mastered. K12 Scope & Sequence documents for each course include:

Course Overview

Students examine the natural world's interrelationships in AP Environmental Science. During this two-semester course, they identify and analyze environmental problems and their effects and evaluate the effectiveness of proposed solutions. They learn to think like environmental scientists as they make predictions based on observation, write hypotheses, design and complete field studies and experiments, and reach conclusions based on the analysis of resulting data. Students apply the concepts of environmental science to their everyday experiences, current events, and issues in science, politics, and society. The course provides opportunities for guided inquiry and student-centered learning that build critical thinking skills. Prerequisites for enrollment include two years of prior coursework in laboratory sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, or Physics).

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Course Length

Two Semesters

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Success in two years of laboratory sciences in the following (or equivalents): usually SCI204 or SCI500 (AP): Biology, or Life Science, and either SCI304 or SCI510 (AP): Chemistry or SCI404 or SCI520 (AP): Physics; and MTH124: Honors Algebra I; SCI114: Honors Earth Science is recommended; and teacher/school counselor recommendation

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Course Outline


Unit 1: Introduction to Environmental Science

Students learn the benefits of an environmentally sustainable society by analyzing the roles of natural and solar capital and analyzing the ways human activities affect Earth. They determine the per capita footprint in various regions of the world and its effect on the environment. They also learn the major causes of environmental problems and how the scientific principles of sustainability can be used to solve them.

  • Environmentally Sustainable Societies
  • Environmental Problems
  • Principles of Sustainability

Unit 2: Ecological Principles

Students learn how energy and nutrients cycle through an ecosystem and the roles of organisms, populations, and communities within an ecosystem. They learn about ecological succession, biodiversity, adaptations, natural selection, and extinction. They calculate growth rates, project future populations, and analyze limiting factors.

  • Science, Matter, and Energy
  • Earth Structure and Systems
  • Ecology
  • Biodiversity and Evolution

Unit 3: Human Impacts on Sustainability

Students examine factors that influence human population growth and analyze environmental and economic impacts of overpopulation. They learn factors that influence climate as well as Earth’s major biomes. They also learn the effects of human activities on Earth’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

  • Impacts of the Human Population
  • Climate and Terrestrial Biodiversity
  • Aquatic Biodiversity

Unit 4: Sustaining Biodiversity

Students analyze the role of humans in the premature extinction of species and methods for preventing extinction. They learn of major threats to forest, grassland, and aquatic ecosystems and evaluate the effectiveness of methods to protect and sustain them.

  • The Species Approach
  • The Ecosystem Approach
  • Sustaining Aquatic Biodiversity

Unit 5: Sustaining Land and Water Resources

Students learn about food security, environmental problems associated with food production, and methods to produce food in an environmentally sustainable way. They analyze challenges of providing usable water, methods for cleaning water, major geological processes, natural hazards, and mineral resources on Earth.

  • Food, Soil, and Pest Management
  • Water Resources
  • Geology and Nonrenewable Minerals


Unit 6: Sustaining Energy Resources

Students examine trends in energy consumption, make predictions about future energy needs, and learn methods of improving efficiency and conserving energy. They learn about fossil fuels and nuclear energy, including production, purification, health and safety concerns, costs, and benefits. They also analyze the costs and benefits of alternative renewable energy sources.

  • Energy Conservation and Efficiency
  • Nonrenewable Energy
  • Renewable Energy

Unit 7: Human Health and Environmental Hazards

Students learn the connections between human and environmental health, including major biological and chemical hazards. They examine sources, effects, and methods to reduce air and water pollution. They also examine solid and hazardous waste, including methods of disposal and impacts to Earth's environment.

  • Biological and Chemical Hazards
  • Air Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste

Unit 8: Environmental Impacts of Urbanization

Students identify patterns and the impact of human behavior on climate change. They make predictions about future effects on Earth’s ecosystems. They also analyze the social, economic, and environmental impacts of land and transportation use in urban areas to evaluate the sustainable of cities.

  • Climate Change
  • Sustainable Cities

Unit 9: Sustaining Human Societies

Students analyze economic forces that affect societies and their impact on environmental issues. They evaluate how environmental policy is made and analyze cultural, ethical, and legal considerations regarding the environment.

  • Economics and the Environment
  • Politics and the Environment
  • Ethics and the Environment

Unit 10: Applying Principles of Environmental Science

Students complete a project about major environmental issues of a UN member country. They compare and contrast environmental issues from different countries and identify benefits and challenges of international cooperation.

  • Issues in Environmental Science

Semester One Review, Units 1-5

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Lesson Scheduling

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K12 Scope & Sequence documents for each course include:

  • Course Overview (as seen above)
  • Course Outline
  • Lesson Time and Scheduling