New Crop

[caption id="attachment_1117" align="alignleft" width="300"] By NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center[/caption]

Last year, I can say without hesitation, that APES (AP Environmental Science) was my favorite class. I love the interdisciplinary nature of the class. It draws from all areas of curriculum forcing students to draw deep connections that they may not have ever previously considered. Adding a little spice to the course, is the fact that environmental science, by its very nature, is controversial. Unfortunately there is no easy balance to be found between caring for the planet in a manner that preserves it for the future and meeting the needs of those who inhabit the earth in the present. 

This Spring I have a whole new class of APES students. It is the youngest AP class I've ever taught (mostly sophomores), but already they have shown themselves to be quick learners and capable students. Qualities that they will need to exercise to the fullest over the coming months. Due to the scheduling of the AP Exam, this crop of APES will need to cover the same amount of material in a week's less time. A week does not seem like much until you consider the fact that we cover a chapter of material per week. It is going to be a challenge, but I have every confidence that they are up to it. 

Introductions aside, I would like to take this opportunity to feature our first week in review contributors, Shaun Tarreporewalla and Lily Pham. Reporting on the week of 1/21-1/25,

Shaun writes:

This week in earth environmental science:
We had a long 4-day holiday so we arrived on school on Tuesday. The entire student body was refreshed and ready for a week of learning!
The week started with a discussion about what would happen if the earth was not tilted on its axis?  The class produced some enthusiastic answers. Soon we began with our lesson for that day - an overview/summary of the layers of the atmosphere and their significance. They are as follows:
  • Troposphere: where weather occurs, most dense
  • Stratosphere: contains UV blocking Ozone layer
  • Mesosphere: second layer - less dense then the stratosphere
  • Thermosphere: blocks x-ray radiation, where the aurora light occur
  • Exosphere: least dense layer
After learning about the atmosphere we began talking about the formation of Hadley cells (A large-scale atmospheric convection cell in which air rises at the equator and sinks at medium latitudes).  We closed out the day with a discussion of the Intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and how an area within that zone would have increased rainfall.
On Wednesday we began by learning about the corealis winds: Coriolis effect is a deflection of moving objects when they are viewed in a rotating reference frame.  We then did a lab to show the class the effects of the winds: we used a turntable and markers to draw the trajectories of the “lines across the globe”, it was fun and exciting!   We also began talking bout “el Niño and La Nina” a result of the corealis effect they are changes in the direction of currents/wind. We saw how gyers (large pacific ocean currents affect the temperature of water, and upwelling:  a phenomenon that allows nutrient rich water to flow from the bottom of the ocean to the surface (good for fish) we also saw the effects that El Niño and la Nina had on countries and people. On Thursday we watched a video describing the process of rain shadow. Most of the class time was spent by learning about the similarities of different organism in various biomes, despite may of the organism not being genetically related they all seemed to form similar adaptations to survive their special climates. Finally at the end of the week we discussed and learned about ecosystems evenness and ecosystem richness. More specifically we learned how to calculate the richness of an area by using Shannon’s index… a long and complicated formula.  Thus ends another productive week in the classroom of Mr. Kite! My horizon and knowledge-sphere has certainly gone to the next level.
Lily Adds:
In Mr. Kite’s AP Environmental Science class we started off the week on Tuesday because of our Martin Luther King holiday on Monday. On Tuesday we started chapter 4, which talks about global climates and biomes. At the beginning of class we did kind of a review about the layers of the atmosphere and their importance. After that discussion we learned about the formation of Hadley cells and the intertropical convergence zone or ITCZ for short. On Wednesday started off learning about the Coriolis Effect. After a couple of notes we did a lab that helped us better understand the Coriolis Effect. In the lab we used a turn table and marker. We had to draw a line from the inside to the outside while the table was turning and observe the line and the direction it curved. After that lab we watched a video about El Niño and La Niña. On Thursday we watched a video about the rain shadow process and took notes about the different biomes. On Friday we learned about ecosystem richness and evenness. Toward the end of class we learned how to calculate the richness by using the Shannon’s index. It looked scary at first but after the first couple of examples we got the hang of it.