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Our 2022-2023 APES Playbook

Updated: Oct 1, 2022


Here we are again at the beginning of another exciting school year of teaching AP Environmental Science! Some of you have inquired about our instructional plan for the upcoming year. We hesitate to be too prescriptive because there are numerous methods of highly effective instruction, but we are happy to share our plan for the year ahead.


The foundations of our instruction during the 2022-23 school year include:

  1. Vibrant discussions centered on our case studies that include FRQ-style questions. Each case study is completed in 2 - 3 days. The conversations and some of the work are done in class and some of the reading, math practice, and analysis are done at home so that students are prepared to have thoughtful and robust conversations during our class time together.

  2. Laboratory investigations, field studies, simulations, and demonstrations selected from the Science Outside Lab Manual 2nd Edition (A variety from each unit, we swap a few in and out of each unit each year). We do a lot of investigations and demonstrations. Some of the demonstrations only take 15 minutes to do, while some of the longer investigations take 1 - 2 class periods. After the AP test is over, we will do some more of the lab investigations and field studies we didn’t have time for prior to the exam. We’ll also try out some of the new free labs available on the College Board AP Environmental Science website.

  3. Mr. Jordan Dischinger-Smede’s YouTube videos are accompanied by Fill in Notes (Fill in Notes for his videos are readily available on the National APES Teachers Facebook Group). We ask students to watch 1 each night for every school day starting during the second week of school. There is one video for every subunit in the curriculum. These are almost always done by our students at home for homework.

  4. Climate Change Virtual Escape Adventure

  5. AP Classroom Multiple Choice Exams are taken online for each of the 9 Units

  6. 2-3 Practice Exams available on the College Board’s AP Environmental Science website

  7. Mr. Dischinger-Smedes AP Environmental Science Ultimate Review Packets (available on his YouTube Channel)

This is not the “right” way to teach the course, and our instructional methods continually evolve. Yet, for those who are interested, this is our playbook for the 2022-23 academic year, and I hope some teachers benefit from my sharing it. And, for those who desire us to be even more prescriptive, we are happy to share again the specific case studies we intend to choose from for use in the following order (though we always reserve the right to mix and match to keep things exciting and to separate our classes a little bit):


Unit 0: Introduction to Environmental Science

  • Case Studies: American Chestnut

  • Investigations: Life in a Drop of Pond Water, Dollar Voting


Unit 1: The Living World: Ecosystems

  • Case Studies: American Bison, Cicadas OR Oysters, Eating at a Different Trophic Level (Free on the Science Outside website)

  • Investigations: Photosynthesis, Local Tree and/or Plant Identification, Carbon Cycle, Nitrogen Cycle, Dorito Calorimetry, GPP, Respiration, and NP


Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity

  • Case Studies: Beavers, Moose, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, Bighorn Sheep OR Pronghorn

  • Investigations: Soil Your Undies, Island Biogeography, Benthic Macroinvertebrate Diversity and Water Quality, Natural Selection


Unit 3: Population

  • Case Studies: Wild Turkeys OR North Atlantic Right Whale, The Human Population

  • Investigations: Predator/Prey, Quadrat Sampling, Estimating Population Size Using the Lincoln Index, Cemetery Survivorship Analysis, Exploring the Demographic Transition Model with Gapminder, GDP and Human Demographics


Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources

  • Case Studies: Earthworms, Earth’s Climate

  • Investigations: Geologic Time Scale, Plate Tectonics, Soil Particle Composition, Soil Properties and Macronutrients, Global Wind Pattern, Angle of Solar Incidence, Earth’s Seasons, Specific Heat of Soil vs. Water


Unit 5: Land and Water Use

  • Case Studies: Coast Redwoods, Sustainable Agriculture

  • Investigations: Tragedy of the Commons?, How Much Space is Required to Feed You?, Root Length in Grasses, Virtual Mining, Copper Extraction, Ecological Footprint


Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption

  • Case Studies: Firewood, Nuclear Power, Wind Power

  • Investigations: Formulate a research question that explores how a person’s income impacts the size of their ecological footprint, Electricity, Build a Simple Electricity Generator, Energy Efficiency, Snap Circuits Green, Energy Audit, How Many Solar Panels, The Global Cooling Problem


Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution

  • Case Studies: Photochemical Smog, Asbestos OR Radon, Brook Trout in the Adirondacks

  • Investigations: Air Pollution Modeling, Photochemical Smog, Thermal Inversion, Chalk Drawings, Acid Deposition, Formulate a research question on the impact of acid rain on the environment, Noise Pollution


Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution

  • Case Studies: American Alligators OR Bald Eagle, The Great Stink, Solid Waste, Mountain Lions

  • Investigations: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Cleanup, Fecal Coliform Bacteria, Eutrophication, Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification, Campus Litter Survey, Plastic Footprint Calculator, Design Your Own Water Filter, Water Quality, One in a Million, LD50

April 1st: Sasquatch or a new fun case study not released yet!


Unit 9: Global Change

  • Case Studies: Stratospheric Ozone Depletion, Climate Change, Gray Wolves in Colorado

  • Investigations: Ozone Depletion Model, Greenhouse Effect PhET, C-ROADS Climate Simulator Activity (free on our homepage), En-ROADS Climate Simulator Activity (free on our homepage), Albedo, The Impact of Melting Ice on Sea Level, Virtual Urchin - Our Acidifying Ocean, Ocean Acidification, Invasive Species



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