1. Advanced Placement Biology
My AP Biology course is set up to meet all the standards put forth by the College Board.
A very high emphasis is placed on laboratory investigations and student driven
discussions of current scientific topics. All of the major topics of the AP Biology course
outline are covered including: biochemistry, cells and cellular energetics, genetics and
evolution, structure and function of animals and plants and ecology. In addition to these
specific topics the eight major themes of biology run throughout the course. These major
themes are: Science as a process
Chemistry and change
Structure and function
Science, technology and society
These themes are interwoven throughout the entire course. They lay the foundation that
all biology is based upon and continuously built upon. I strive to make the course as
interesting and current as I can for my students and to attempt to show them the relevance
of modern biology in their lives.
At the conclusion of this course the students should be able to
- master the knowledge of the major topics covered in the course
-demonstrate the ability to investigate laboratory situations and draw conclusions based
upon their investigations
-apply the knowledge that they have gained to societal issues and problems
-demonstrate the ability to use biological technology and the scientific method
During the course of the year, all twelve of the required labs and their objectives will be
covered. In addition to the twelve, many other pertinent investigations will be carried out
to either supplement one of the required labs or to demonstrate another concept that is not
2. directly covered by one of the twelve. The students are required to keep a lab notebook
that includes all the labs completed during the year. This book serves as a permanent
record of all the investigations that they perform. It is a major source of points for the
students and they are required to keep them current and to hand them in approximately
every two weeks to be graded.
Students are continuously evaluated on their work. This is mainly carried out through
quizzes, tests and their lab books. In addition to these they have few major projects such
as the phylogenetic poster and their summer assignment which covers the basics of
ecology. Also, we use the released essays from the previous ten years as a review tool.
The students usually do a full essay once every week to two weeks. These are either
graded by myself, by the student or peer graded.
The textbook that is used in this course is: Campbell, Neil A and Jane B Reece.
Biology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall 6th edit.
Unit One Chemistry (3 weeks)
Readings chapters 2-6
-basic chemical principles including bonding and electron arrangements
-water chemistry and the importance of hydrogen bonding and inherent properties
-basic organic chemistry: carbon, isomers and functional groups
-polymer chemistry-carbohydrates, lipids and proteins
-enzyme; their structure and function and control of metabolism through feedback
mechanisms;an important topic that will be covered throughout the year.
-polarity of water demo-using a balloon and a buret
-playing of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and subsequent discussion of
enantiomers and thalidomide..look up thalidomide on internet
-Molecular Model building-students must use models to build basic organic molecules
and associated isomers 1 day
3. -Paperase ( I use this instead of toothpickase) same basic principles 1 day
-AP lab 2-Enzyme Catalysis 2 days
-Collection of student lab books
-quiz on functional groups
-unit test on chapters 2-5
-separate test on chapter 6; Metabolism
If a unit test seems to be too long, certain chapters that contain a large amount of
material will be tested independently.
Unit Two Cells and Cell Processes (4 weeks)
Readings chapters 7-9, 11-12
-Cells and organelles and the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
-membrane structure and function-active and passive transport across the membrane
-cellular respiration-three basic processes and alternative pathways and control
-endosymbiotice theory of evolutionary development of chloroplasts and mitochondria
-mitosis and the cell cycle-steps of mitosis, what happens in each step and the chemical
control of mitosis and the feedback loops involved
-large cell drawings-half poster size-one each for plant and animal cells; labeled and
-cell communication role playing activity..group activity-students assume the role of
molecules and actually act out the mechanisms of cell communications
-basic introduction to the microscope and plant and animal cells 1 day-just a basic lab in
almost every lab manual.
- AP lab 1 osmosis and diffusion 2 days
-AP Lab 3 mitosis 1 day (1st half only on mitosis)
-AP Lab cell respiration 2 days
-collect student lab books
4. -grade role playing for content..not acting
- quiz on cell organelles and functions
-test on chapters 8 and 9- membranes and cell respiration
-test on chapters 11 and 12-communication and mitosis
Note on photosynthesis..this will be covered in the plant unit.
Unit 3 Genetics (8 weeks)
The Blue People of Troublesome Creek from Scientific American
Original papers by Watson and Crick
-meiosis-spermatogenesis and oogenesis and the similarities and differences between the
two-also a comparison of mitosis and meiosis
-Mendelian genetics and inheritance-Punnett squares, the rule of multiplication and the
application to real world problems of certain heritable disorders
-evolutionary significance of genetics and how it relates to natural selection
-DNA, replication and structure
-protein synthesis-and the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic processes
-bacterial and viral genetics-adaptations and evolutionary significance
-technology and current uses of genetics-gel eletorphoresis, pcr and genetic engineering
-video-DNA Manhunt-story of the first murder solved by DNA fingerprinting from the
-video-In Search Of Jesse James- using forensic evidence to determine Jesse James’
-coin flipping exercise for probability…each student flips 100 times…add up class totals
and discuss probabilities etc.
-discuss the Blue People article
-Making a Baby Face activity…coin flips for genotypes..the resulting report and drawing
becomes a portfolio entry for the student’s files.
-short( one page) report on genetic disorder of the students’ choice
-class discussion on the use of genetic engineering and how it actually affects the lives of
the students. This discussion can actually last the entire unit as new topics come up.
-handouts of the royal families of Europe and the incidence of heomophilia
AP Lab 3 Meiosis 1 day
AP Lab 6 Gel Electrophoresis 1 day
AP Lab 7 Fruit Flies 1 day for initial set up, then approximately 1 and half hours
Per week for the next month..total time approx. 4 more class periods
AP Lab 6 Bacterial transformation 2 day
AP Lab 3 Crossing Over and calculation of rates using Sordaria 1 day
-lab--Where’s the CAT 1 day…prior to gel electrophoresis-this is a good lead in lab that
sparks even more interest in an already current topic. This lab was taken from the AP
-lab--isolation of onion DNA -strawberries have also been used..both seem to work
equally well. 1 day
-lab--Gram Staining of bacteria-used to teach basic staining techniques as well as basic
bacterial morphology and physiology 1-2 days
-karyotyping-this is a cut and paste paper lab which results in a karyotype of a child with
trisomy 21 1 day
-collection of student lab books..2 separate times
-collection of baby face activity(not in student lab book)
-test on DNA structure and replication and Medelian problems
-test on DNA technology and remaining topics
-short reports on videos
Unit 4 Evolution (4 weeks)
-Darwin and the historical perspective tracing the concepts of evolutionary thought from
Aristotle to the present
-population evolution and the introduction of the Hardy-Weinberg concept
-speciation and the barriers to speciation
-phylogeny and the 3 domain approach to classification
-Watch the original movie version of Inherit the Wind if time permits.
-Watch the video of Trials of Life..we usually watch 2-3 of the videos; Continuing the
6. Line, Finding Food, etc. This will lead to a discussion on the adapatations of different
-AP Lab 8 Populations and Hardy-Weinberg -if the class is too small(about once every
three years) we usually “borrow” one of the biology classes and they come in and help
with this particular lab. 2 days
-disease transmission lab-we use cups with water with sodium hydroxide in one of them.
The class exchanges samples and we test with phenolphthalein. This is a great way to
demonstrate viral or bacterial disease transmission and the resulting discussion on
antibiotic resistance that may develop. 1 day(although they want to do this one over and
-collect student lab books
-test on chapters 22-24
Unit 5 Structure and Function within the Animal Kingdom (2weeks)
Origins of animal diversity..and phylogenetic trees
-the animal kingdom from invert. To vert.
-comparison of organ systems from primitive to complex
-students construct a phylogenetic poster(or spread sheet)…this assignment is actually
given out 6 weeks prior to its due date. The students work on this at home. The poster
consists of approximately 20 different phyla and classes of vertebrates and 20 different
characteristics. Each box must be filled in with information..we then take 2 class periods
to go over the poster..after it has been graded and returned.
-protozoan lab-observe and draw different protozoans such as euglena, paramecium and
7. stentor 1 day
The poster is graded for approximately 200 points. The students then take an open poster/
spread sheet exam for an additional 100 points.
Unit 6 Anatomy and Physiology (5 weeks)
40-49..selected sections to supplement lecture material
-the following organ systems/topics will be covered in lecture
-each of the above topics will be covered with emphasis on the human structure and
function and the evolutionary comparison from simple to complex..the students will
actually still use their phylogenetic posters for this process.
-Emphasis is also placed on the role of feedback mechanisms which are in place in the
mechanisms of each system.
-discussion of the trends that are to be found within each system as it pertains to
evolutionary complexities and adaptations
-watch the video from Nova on the controversial heart surgery of removing a piece of an
enlarged heart to make it work more efficiently.
-drawings of the brain, ear and eye, labeled and defined
-AP Lab 10 Physiology of the Circulatory System 2 days
-Taste bud mapping…students use 4 different liquids and using q-tips paint the surface of
their partner’s tongues, they then determine where they tasted the flavors forming a map
of the taste buds. 1 day
8. -each chapter will have a 20-30 question quiz..aprroximately every 3 days.
-collect lab books
Unit 7 Botany (3 weeks)
Chapters 35-39 selected passages
-the structure of a typical plant
-comparison of monocot to dicot
-mechanisms of plant growth-relate back to mitosis lab and onion root tips
-how and why the process of transpiration occurs and how bulk flow occurs
-the nutrional requirements of plants and the role of bacteria in nitrogen fixation
-plant reproduction and the differences between gymnosperms and angiosperms
-how plants respond to stimuli and the role hormones play in plant responses
-the process of photosynthesis alternative methods of carbon storage and fixation
-watch the Nature video “Sexual Encounters of the Floral Kind”
-flower dissection-students will dissect and draw a flower and its reproductive parts 1day
-AP Lab 9 transpiration set up is one day, some years we use the potometer method and
this lasts just one day, other years we use the method of massing the whole plants over a
5 day period
-continutation of lab 9-the inspection of the cross section of a stem
-AP Lab 4 Plant pigments and Photosynthesis 1 and half days.
-the affect of plant hormones on pea plants…students plant 3 flats of peas, one is left as a
control and the other two have different hormones smeared on them and the results are
checked over a course of 3 weeks.
-collect lab books
-test on all plant material
-plant vocabulary..I usually do not do vocabulary but this is one time that the students do
a set of terms.
Unit 8 Ecology (4 weeks-this unit is usually done at the beginning of the school year
9. Instead of at the end)
-the basics of animal behavior and how it relates to human activity
-characteristics of populations and once again how it relates to human history
-biodiversity and community ecology
-ecosystems and the role of human activity
-summer assignments collected
-class discussion on the impact of humans on the ecology of our world
-AP Lab 11 Animal Behavior..we usually use pillbugs that I collect or the students collect
-AP Lab 12 Dissolved Oxygen and Aquatic Primary Productivity-this lab is conducted at
a local lake that is owned by our community business partner. We often make 2-3 trips to
the lake either during class or afterschool. 1-4 days.
-collect lab books
-test on all chapters
Final Unit-Test Review
At the conclusion of the lecture material we usually have one and a half to two weeks left
to review for the exam. This time is spent taking practice exams, answering essays and
using computer simulations of the lab to review. The lab simulations are set up using an
infocus projector so the entire class can get the benefit of the review.
In conclusion, I believe that the experience of taking a class such as AP Biology is
unparalleled for the exposure to the world of the life sciences. The students receive an
immense amount of material and hopefully they learn to take this information; process it
and learn to evaluate and think on their own and to draw their own conclusions based on