This course contains five projects, plus a course introduction and course closure, that are organized around the following question: “How can we rethink our use of the world’s resources?” Each project involves investigations of sustainability that help contextualize the content required by the new College Board course framework.
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This AP Environmental Science class is intended to meet the same objectives as a first-year college-based course.
However, the method of instruction for this course is unique compared to similar courses because we have adopted
a project-based learning (PBL) approach. Although PBL may take many forms, our approach involves student
investigations and simulations that require students to think like scientists, policymakers, farmers, and other adults
in real-world settings. Teachers engage students in collaborative problem solving, argumentation, and deep
exploration of the concepts and principles of the discipline. The goal for student learning is understanding rather
than relying on rote memory to create meaningful learning and knowledge that is actionable, adaptive, and
This course contains five projects that are organized around the following question: “What is the proper role of government in a democracy?” Each project involves political simulations through which students take on roles that help contextualize the content required by the new College Board course framework.
Government in Action
Openly licensed PDF unit plans of all the above units are available at this Sprocket Lucas Education Research Platform (scroll to bottom of web page).
Alternately, educators may sign up for free access to the online AP U.S. Government and Politics course that includes additional instructional supports:
Students learn about the concepts of the tragedy of the commons and sustainability in the Course Introduction. Project 1 builds on these concepts by having students analyze their family’s ecological footprint using data they collect by auditing their use of various resources. Students then propose how they their family live more sustainably. Part of Sprocket's AP environmental science course.
In Global Climate Summit, students are all assigned to be the leaders of specific countries in the world, and they have all been invited to an international environmental summit. Students will research factors in their countries and, using this information, will decide how climate change could affect their country and how their policies could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Students then run a global climate summit in class to defend their perspectives and ultimately decide who has the responsibility to reduce climate emissions and how it can be accomplished.
In the previous project, Ecological Footprint, students examined their family’s ecological footprint. Project 2, My
Community Ecology, moves to a slightly larger scale to look at the local community. Students will continue to look
through the three lenses of sustainability, but this project focuses heavily on the ecological impacts of human
development. Students will visit a local site where development could occur (this could be a real development or
a teacher-created site), and they will study the flora and fauna to determine the ecological impacts of that
development. Students will learn specifically about populations, population dynamics, carrying capacities, and
limiting factors. Part of Sprocket's AP environmental science course.
In this project, students are all assigned citizen roles on a fictitious island community. Each citizen role has a set of values that they will maintain while the community argues how to recover from its economic decline. Two different industries have proposed to operate from the island, and students debate through a town council meeting, whether to bring one, both, or neither of these industries to the island, and if so, under what conditions.