Yesterday I attended a job fair and used this opportunity to promote my manual in person. One of the school representatives asked me if these labs had been approved by the College Board. I told her that I based my labs on topics from the textbook by Richard Wright ("Environmental Science: Towards a Sustainable Future" ISBN-10: 0132302659 • ISBN-13: 9780132302654). This is helpful, but I forgot to tell her that the College Board approved a syllabus I submitted in 2009 with labs that came exclusively from the manual. Below is what I submitted (both lecture and lab). The lab section is near the bottom, and I used abbreviations (C1,C2,...) to indicate which scoring component from the syllabus development guide was being addressed. I apologize for the irregular spacing. This was a consequence of cutting and pasting and I do not have time to re-write the whole thing!:



    This is a comprehensive course in Environmental Science at the college level. Students will learn about types of ecosystems, cycling of energy and matter within the natural environment, population dynamics, natural succession, response of ecosystems to outside disturbance (such as hunting, fishing, deforestation, and the introduction of exotic species), biodiversity, management of natural resources (including wildlife, fisheries, soil, and water).

    To thoroughly understand the impact of humans on the natural environment students will learn about the effect of agriculture, pesticides (and other hazardous wastes), the energy industry (fossil fuels, nuclear energy, renewable energy), air pollution, water pollution, solid waste disposal, climate change, and ozone depletion. Finally, students will use cost/benefit analysis techniques in order to critically evaluate public policy. One period per week will be set aside for laboratory work or data collection and analysis. Each activity will require a written report.

Wright, R.T. Environmental Science, 9th Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005



1 Definition and Structure of Ecosystems. Trophic categories and relationships, abiotic factors, role of climate, biomes [C2].

2 Matter and Energy Cycling. Energy flow in ecosystems, carbon cycle, phosphorus cycle, nitrogen, cycle, human effect on these cycles [C1].                                                   

3 How Ecosystems Change. Natural population dynamics, predator/prey, competition, keystone species, ecological succession [C7].

 4 Human Population Dynamics. Industrial Revolution, IPAT formula (and its shortcomings), ecological footprint, outsourcing of pollution [C3].      

 5 Water. Hydrological cycle, convection currents, rain shadow, water cycle loops (evapotranspiration, ground and surface waters), human impact on water supply (consumption, pollution, deforestation), water laws, methods of reducing waste [C4].

6 Soil. Soil profiles and classes, soil requirements for sustaining life, soil community, enrichment, causes of soil mineralization (erosion, overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation) [C4].

7 Food Production. Green Revolution, fossil fuel costs of modern agriculture per food category, factory farming, pros and cons of GMF, causes of famine, types of malnutrition [C7].

8 Fossil Fuels. Short history of fossil fuel use (coal, petroleum, natural gas),real cost of petroleum (including military), oil substitutes, and conservation policies [C5].

 9  Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy. Principles of nuclear fission, components of nuclear reactors, pros and cons of nuclear energy, controversies and accidents (Yucca mountain, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), fusion energy, water power, wind power, solar energy, biomass energy, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells [C5].

10 Environmental Hazards, Pest Control. Types of environmental hazards (cultural, biological, physical, chemical), main causes of death in poor and affluent countries, chemical and ecological control of pests, first and second generation pesticides, problems of chemical control and how they are addressed, biological control (including genetic control), policies for managing pesticides use [C6].

11 Water Pollution. Types of water pollution (pathogens, organic wastes, nutrient overload, sediment overload, chemicals), eutrophication, sewage treatment, Clean Water Act [C6].

12 Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste. Problems of landfills, problems of combustion, recycling, hazardous material risk categories, problems of current disposal methods for hazardous wastes, policies for managing toxic wastes, techniques for reducing toxic waste production, cleaning up toxic wastes (Superfund), toxic waste disasters [C6].

13 Air Pollution, Climate Change. Role of hydroxyl radical in cleaning the air, photochemical and industrial smog, primary and secondary pollutants, health and ecological problems, chemical pathways for secondary pollutant production, acid rain, Clean Air Act, Carbon dioxide sources and sinks, other greenhouse gases, policies for dealing with global warming (with emphasis on Kyoto Protocol), effect of CFC’s on ozone, Montreal Protocol [C6, C7].

 14 Biodiversity. Intrinsic and instrumental value of nature, biodiversity decline, invasive species, intervention techniques, intervention criteria and policy [C2].

15 Management of Natural Resources. Natural and provisional services of nature, sustainable yield, tragedy of the commons, management of different ecosystems (forest, tropical, oceanic, coral reefs, mangroves), restoration ecology (with emphasis on the Everglades) [C10].

 16 Public Policy, Urban Sprawl. Classical versus ecological economic paradigms, cost/benefit ratio of environmental policies, sprawl characteristics, costs of sprawl, smart growth initiatives [C10].


 week     TOPIC 

1          Pond Dynamics: Effect of  Temperatire, Photosynthesis,  Biological Oxygen Demand, Weather Conditions, and  Seasonal Change on Dissolved Oxygen. A courtyard hypereutrophic “pond” (a 70-gallon tank kept outdoors) will be monitored daily. Oxygen and temperature readings will be taken mornings and afternoons. pH, turbidity readings and overall weather conditions will be recorded every afternoon. Alkalinity readings and algae analysis will be carried out at the beginning and end of the 3-month trial. Oxygen and temperature readings will be ploted to look at seasonal trends and correlations. Implications of how hypereutrophication endangers aquatic life under wam weather conditions will be discussed [C2, C6, C8, C9, C11]. 

2          Water Chemistry I: Aeration, Temperature and Dissolved Oxygen. Students will learn about what affects dissolved oxygen levels by taking measurements in air-saturated distilled water samples subjected to different temperatures [C9, C11]. 

3          Water Chemistry II: pH, Alkalinity, and Hardness. Students will take pH, alkalinity, hardness, conductivity, and boyancy measurements in three natural samples (pond, tap and sea water) and four prepared samples (distilled water, calcium carbonate solution, dilute sodium hydroxide solution, and sugar solution) [C11]. 

4          Water Chemistry III: Conductivity and Boyancy. Students will take conductivity, and boyancy measurements in three natural samples (pond, tap and sea water) and four prepared samples (distilled water, calcium carbonate solution, dilute sodium hydroxide solution, and sugar solution) [C11].

5          Water Chemistry IV: Buffering Capacity. Buffering capacity of natural and prepared samples will be evaluated by constructing a titration curve with the help of a pH meter. Implications for the remediation of acid rain will be discussed [C6, C9, C11].

6          Soil Analysis: Texture. This procedure tests for run-off, water holding capacity, and workability of sand, loam, clay, and topsoil [C4, C9, C11]. 

7          Nitrogen Cycle: Nitrification and Assimilation. Students will take daily ammonia readings in two ammonia-enriched aquarium water tanks: One contains “activated” gravel (containing nitrifying bacteria) and the other contains disinfected gravel. Students will also take daily phosphate and nitrate readings in two nutrient-enriched aquarium water tanks: One contains Elodea and the other lacks plants. These plants will be weighed before and after the trial to estimate how much plant material is needed to alleviate nutrient overload in bodies of water [C1, C6, C9, C11]. 

8          Transportation Energy I: The Impact of Oil Taxes and American Oil Demand. Students will navigate the Department of Energy website to find out exactly how much crude oil Americans consume in the form of gasoline. Information from this website will be plugged into a spreadsheet to calculate the impact on world oil prices of three levels of conservation carried out by Americans (10%, 25%, and 50%). Students will also use website information relating oil price to economic growth in order to propose conservation strategies that are least likely to hurt the economy [C5, C9]. 

9          Transportation Energy II: The Cost of Oil-Free Transportation.  Students will navigate the Department of Energy website to calculate the current fossil fuel costs of electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell cars (using hydrogen derived from electrolysis), and oil derived from coal [C5, C9].

10         LD-50 Bioassay: Dose-Response of Yeast to Hypochlorite. The lethal effect of different dilutions of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) will be tested on yeast by measuring carbon dioxide production [C6, C9, C11].

11         Remediation Bioassay: Thiosulfate Neutralization of Hypochlorite. The LD-50 hypochlorite dilution will be subjected to different doses of sodium hypochlorite in order to determine the optimum dose that results in a solution that has no noticeable effect on yeast [C6, C9, C11].

12         Carbon Dioxide Sequestration: Dose Response of Algae to Carbon Dioxide. Using sealed plastic bottles, the effect of different doses of carbon dioxide (50% saturation, 25% saturation, 12.5% saturation, and control) will be tested on pre-fertilized water samples from a hypereutrophic pond. Algae growth will be quantified by way of visual observation after 3-4 weeks [C6, C11].

13        The Interrelationship Between Energy, Economics, Policy, Demographics, nd Quality of Life (session 1). Students will compile information on economics (income per capita, % agricultural labor, oil production), demographics (fertility, % age 0-14), quality of life (infant mortality, life expectancy), resource consumption (petroleum, electricity), infrastructure (phones), and policy (economic freedom, corruption) on selected countries using the CIA factbook (, the economic freedom index (, and corruption index ( [C3, C5, C9, C10].

14         The Interrelationship Between Energy, Economics, Policy, Demographics, and Quality of Life (session 2). Students will organize the information compiled during the previous week into a spreadsheet to create a minimum of 12 scatter plots to look at interrelationships between numerous factors affecting overall quality of life [C3, C5, C9, C10].

15         The Interrelationship Between Energy, Economics, Policy, Demographics, and Quality of Life (session 3). Students will use these scatter plots to identify “outlier” countries that maintain high income per capita and relatively high quality of life with lower-than-expected energy consumption. Students will also identify outliers that maintain relatively high quality of life with lower-than-expected income per capita. Outliers with disproportionately low quality of life or high energy consumption will also be identified. All outliers will be discussed in terms of implications for public policy [C3, C5, C9, C10].

16         Quantifying Sprawl. Students will use “mapquest” to create maps of where they live and compare them to selected maps of low and high sprawl places in the region. They will then use this same function to locate grocery stores, restaurants, post offices, and schools in each map. Average distances from the residence to all of these locations will be used to apply a crude “sprawl score” for each location [C9, C10].