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SCB612: AP Biology (2011-2012)

CURRICULUM PROGRAM: Advanced Placement
CALENDAR YEAR: 2011-2012

About the Program:
AP Biology provides an understanding of the unifying themes and fundamental concepts and principles of biology with an emphasis on inquiry and critical thinking skills including problem solving, mathematical reasoning, and experimental investigations. Topics of study include molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations. Laboratory work is an integral component of this course. Technology including graphing calculators, probe ware, graphing and data analysis software, and biological apparatus is used throughout this course.

Though our system has an open enrollment policy, students should understand that this course is designed to be a second year biology course, and the equivalent of a two-semester long introductory, college level biology course. The course requires a working knowledge of biology, and chemistry. The breadth, pace and depth of material covered exceeds the standard high school Biology course, as does the college-level textbook, laboratory work, and time and effort required of students. This course provides the biology foundations for college majors in biology. Students are expected to take the AP Biology Exam at the end of this course.

Laboratory Requirement: Students who take this course spend a minimum of 30% of their time engaged in hands-on laboratory exercises.

Major Concepts/Content: AP Biology is a college-level course which differs from a high school Biology course in terms of depth of coverage, the type of laboratory work and time commitments for study. The three topics in AP Biology that are detailed in the AP Biology course description, which is available on AP Central ( These topics and relative time percentages for coverage of each are as listed below:

  • Molecules and Cells 25%
  • Heredity and Evolution 25%
  • Organisms and Populations 50%

Course Objectives:

  • To develop a conceptual understanding of the major themes of modern biology (evolution, energy transfer, continuity and change, structure and function, regulation, and interdependence) as a vehicle to investigate the concepts, principles, and topics of biology.
  • To develop and apply scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills, through active hands-on participation in the asking and answering of testable questions, and employing the components of a well-designed experimental investigation.
  • To foster scientific habits of mind including curiosity, creativity, and objectivity; and appreciate science as a process rather than an accumulation of knowledge.
  • To apply an understanding of biological knowledge and scientific methodology to environmental and social issues.

Course Philosophy: Scientific inquiry is the basis of this course. Scientific inquiry is defined as the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Scientific inquiry also refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world (NSTA, 2004).

This includes active use of the well-designed investigation in which students: 1)form testable questions and hypotheses, 2)design and conduct appropriate investigative procedures, including the identification and control of appropriate variables, 3)organize, display and critically analyze results, 4)draw inferences, summarize results and develop conclusions, and 5)communicate their results for critique by others. Based on the philosophy that scientific knowledge is best acquired through inquiry, the course uses a variety of techniques to promote inquiry in the classroom (ex. multiple revisions, high quality questioning, synthesis, making conclusions based on evidence, etc).

Instruction is designed and sequenced to provide students with learning opportunities in the appropriate settings. They include laboratories, classrooms, forms of technology, and field studies. Teaching strategies include in depth laboratory investigations, demonstrations, collaborative peer-to-peer discussions, and student hands-on experiences. Inquiry requires adequate and timely access to the technology of scientific investigations including computers, internet and online resources, probe ware, graphing calculators, databases, spreadsheets, word processes and presentation software, as well as the experimental apparatus of biology.