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Environmental Systems A

Course Description

Environmental Systems A, the first course of a two-semester series, explores the nature of science and the natural world. Students examine environmental issues and learn to make informed decisions using scientific problem solving. Specific topics include ecological interactions, matter and energy flow in ecosystems, biodiversity, characteristics and growth of populations, evolution, succession, biogeochemical cycles, soil and land resources, agriculture, waste management, and characteristics of terrestrial biomes.

Course Organization

Modules. The Modules are practice assignments. Each Module is a non-graded exercise that allows you to build your knowledge and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Graded Assignments. Graded Assignments are the tasks you will submit to your instructor for a grade. Each assignment contains specific information about how your work will be assessed and how credit will be given for your responses. The average of your assignments will count for 75 percent of your course grade.

Course Objectives

Upon completing of this course, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate safe practices in exploring their environment and conducting scientific inquiry;
  • identify global and local environmental problems;
  • utilize scientific problem solving methods to examine environmental issues;
  • identify the abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems and describe the interactions of these components;
  • track matter cycling in environmental systems;
  • identify the sources of energy and trace it’s flow through environmental systems;
  • explain the importance of biodiversity and what factors threaten it;
  • describe population dynamics within environmental systems;
  • relate changes in populations as a result of the processes of evolution and succession;
  • describe the components of soil and how it is formed;
  • summarize the methods of land use and different management strategies;
  • examine world food production and reasons for malnutrition;
  • evaluate agricultural practices for sustainability;
  • describes types of land pollution;
  • identify sources of human generated waste and methods of waste management ;
  • describe the factors that affect terrestrial biomes and compare different biomes; and
  • determine the historical contribution of environmental scientists.

Final Examination

The final examination is comprehensive; it covers the material from all of the units. To pass the course, you must receive a grade of 70 percent or better. You can apply to take the Final Exam after 100 percent of your graded assignments have been submitted, and at least 70 percent have been graded and returned to you.
Format: Objective
Time Allowed: 3 hours

Course Outline

Total Number of Units: 6
Total Number of Activities: 34
Total Number of Graded Assignments: 28

Unit 1: Nature of Science
Module 1: Environmental Science and Environmental Problems
Module 2: Using Safe Practices
Module 3: Ecological Scavenger Hunt
Module 4: How Scientists Work
Module 5: Tools and Technology
Module 6: Environmental Literacy
Module 7: Environmental History
Graded Assignment 1: Environmental History
Graded Assignment 2: Safety Quiz
Graded Assignment 3: Environmental Scavenger Hunt Activity
Graded Assignment 4: How Scientists Work, Tools and Technology, and Environmental History
Graded Assignment 5: Nature of Science Unit Test

Unit 2: Living in the Biosphere
Module 1: The Biosphere: Levels of Organization and the Requirements for Life
Module 2: Ecosystems
Module 3: Matter and Energy Flow Within Ecosystems
Module 4: Food Webs and Ecological Pyramids
Module 5: Virtual Lab: Food Chain Gizmo
Module 6: Relationships Within a Community
Module 7: Biodiversity
Graded Assignment 1: The Biosphere and Ecosystems
Graded Assignment 2: Matter and Energy Flow in Ecosystems and Food Webs
Graded Assignment 3: Community Relationships and Biodiversity
Graded Assignment 4: Living in the Biosphere Unit Test

Unit 3: Populations and How They Change
Module 1: Population Growth and Limiting Factors
Module 2: Characteristics of Populations
Module 3: Virtual Lab: Rabbit Population by Seasons Gizmo
Module 4: Human Populations 
Module 5: Evolution
Module 6: Ecological Succession
Graded Assignment 1: Population Growth and Characteristics
Graded Assignment 2: Human Populations
Graded Assignment 3: Evolution and Ecological Succession
Graded Assignment 4: Populations and How They Change Unit Test

Environmental System A Midterm Exam
This Midterm Exam counts as a graded assignment and does not need to be taken at a testing center.

Unit 4: Soil and Land Resources
Module 1: Biogeochemical Cycles: Carbon and Nitrogen 
Module 2: Virtual Lab: Rock Cycle Gizmo
Module 3: Soil Lab
Module 4: Soil
Module 5: Land Use
Module 6: Land Management
Graded Assignment 1: Biogeochemical Cycles
Graded Assignment 2: Soil Lab Activity
Graded Assignment 3: Soil
Graded Assignment 4: Land Use and Management
Graded Assignment 5: Soil and Land Resources Unit Test

Unit 5: Food, Agriculture, and Waste
Module 1: Food and Nutrition
Module 2: Agriculture, Yesterday and Today
Module 3: Sustainable Agriculture
Module 4: Solid Waste and Waste Management
Graded Assignment 1: Food and Nutrition
Graded Assignment 2: Agriculture
Graded Assignment 3: Waste
Graded Assignment 4: Food, Agriculture, and Waste Unit Test

Unit 6: Terrestrial Biomes
Module 1: Factors That Affect Terrestrial Biomes
Module 2: Tundra and Deserts
Module 3: Grasslands
Module 4: Forests
Graded Assignment 1: Terrestrial Biomes
Graded Assignment 2: Tundra and Deserts
Graded Assignment 3: Comparing Grassland Biomes
Graded Assignment 4: Comparing Forest Biomes
Graded Assignment 5: Terrestrial Biomes Unit Test

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