Adapt and Overcome

This semester has been all about adaptation. I'm not talking about the natural selection sort that we learn about in AP Bio, I'm talking about the type employed by teachers trying to make it through. Though, upon further consideration, maybe they are one and the same. Anyway, this semester we've been beset by all sorts of weather madness that has wreaked no small amount of havoc upon our school schedule. Combining early release days and full snow days, students have missed almost two weeks of school since January. For some classes this isn't a big deal. For AP Environmental, however, it makes life interesting. Even though we have missed tremendous amounts of class, the AP Exam does not move. So we've got to do our best to get everything covered in the reduced amount of time.

Thankfully, I decided to "flip" APES this year. I know that it is not necessarily the students' favorite, but we've been able to keep instruction moving forward in spite of the fact that we haven't had a complete week of school since January. Sadly, we have had to skip a lot of the enrichment activities I had planned, but you do what you have to do in order to keep moving forward. For their part, the students have done an admirable job of keeping up with their work and making sure that all is running smoothly. Before the break I asked several students to reflect upon the previous week. As I read through their responses, I was comforted to see that they had actually learned something. So, I thought I would share some of their thoughts about what they have learned as we have done our best to persevere through the weather.

Jaylin Writes:

This week in APES we focused on land, its uses, mining of, management, and urban sprawl. The thing I found most interesting was urban sprawl. I’ve heard of cities getting high crime rates, and the schools becoming bad but I never knew that the cause of it was urban sprawl. On the topic of mining we learned the different types, which are more efficient, the environmental impacts, and law that regulate it. Before this week I didn’t know much about mining, I thought it was just dig in the ground and pull things out. The things I found most surprising was the fire management techniques. The prescribed burns sounded very unreasonable in the beginning but by the end I learned that they did more good than harm. This was also the last week of our eco chambers. Although I am sad to say that our fish died, I think everyone learned a lot from this experiment. Overall this week was about understanding human impacts on the environment, and some ways to reverse or try to make up for the damage they cause.

Georgia Adds:

This week in APES, we discussed the pros and cons of drilling for oil in ANWR and then debated the issue.  Those who are for it think that it will create jobs and help America’s economy by allowing it to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.  Those who are against it believe that it will negatively impact the environment, wildlife, and biodiversity of the wilderness area.  In our table groups, we researched the issue and then debated it.  It was quick because of a shortened day due to the continued craziness of the weather, but we still learned a lot.  ANWR is a wildness area up in northern Alaska, so roads and other human activity aren’t allowed in it.  My side was for drilling, and we argued that we should create jobs for America and boost our economy because we have a great resource that is going unused.  The group that was against it said that we don’t know how much oil is actually in ANWR, so it’s possible that we could destroy the environment for nothing.  In the end, we came to the consensus that we shouldn’t drill in ANWR because of the degradation it causes to the environment and because we are discovering new alternative energy sources all the time.  Hopefully someday in the future, we will no longer rely on oil as we do now.

Daria Contributes the following:

For the past week and half, APES has kept us occupied as we’ve been placing final touches on lab experiments, lab reports, and group projects. We’ve learned about populations, energy sources, fossil fuels, soil, and the formation of Earth. After closing the semester with a test, spring break is a resting period before the real work begins to prepare for the AP exam. Debates on fracking and oil drilling challenged our views on land management. We also learned the importance of central urban areas on the ecosystem in comparison to the suburbs. Lastly, we had the chance to step into the shoes of a miner and compete with other companies for the best ore deposits available.

Destiny Concludes:

To begin the week we learned about new urbanism, this activity explained and gave examples for how new urbanism is more beneficial and better for the people living in that specific area. During this activity we learned how beneficial the layout of urban areas are compared to sprawl areas. Just to list a few of the things that make new urbanism good is their transit, parking, and street technique. New Urbanism uses this technique to maximize their space by having things close together. This creates a sense of community, with housing styles that don’t differentiate from one another. This causes people of all different races and classes to infuse together. Leading us into Smart Growth this is when we inspired to build up, better layouts and making things in walkable distances.

Even with missed school days we still didn't miss a beat, watching videos still kept us head and on schedule. Videos like: Energy Consumption, Electricity Generation and Fossil Fuels. Energy Consumption and Fossil Fuels mainly focused on how many fossil fuels it takes to produce a certain amount of energy or how much energy fossil fuels can make. With interesting facts like Canada uses the most energy, America’s greatest energy source is coal and etc.

The most important thing I found to remember this week is Fracking (found in the Electricity Generation video). Fracking is when you take a water slurry and pressurize it into the ground causing the fracturing of rock at a fast rate to retrieve a natural resource. Some say that the water slur used can be recycled back but even more say how can the be if the water slur is making its way through the layers of the crust. I found this to be an extremely interesting and valid point.