Ap Biology Course Syllabus (2006-2007)

Ap Biology Course Syllabus (2006-2007)


Science Department – AP Biology / Zoology Teacher

Woodland Hills High School

(412) 244-1100 X 03591


INTRODUCTION: Advanced Placement Biology (AP Bio) applies a quantitative and chemistry-based perspective to the understanding of biological processes. It differs from the first-year course (biology class taken in 9th grade) by increasing the range and depth of topics covered and laboratory experiences offered. The topics covered will be similar to those covered in your 9th grade biology class, but at a much more detailed approach. Major topics include molecular and cellular biology, classical and molecular genetics, evolution, organism biology, and ecology. This course prepares students to take the AP exam, which if highly scored, could lead to the student earning college credits for up to 2 college biology courses. Prerequisites for AP Biology include Biology, Chemistry and Physics with a recommended grade C or better in each.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The AP Biology class meets for single periods three days a week and for double periods twice a week. My teaching style is a mix of lectures based on Power Point presentations, classroom dialogue between students and instructor, and opportunities for students to work as individuals or in small groups in guided laboratory activities. My Power Point presentations are based on figures from the textbook enhanced by my own slides including links to other resources on the Internet. I will make efforts to maintain a course website though which students can access my lesson plans, Power Point presentations, laboratory data and analysis generated from the class lab activities, and my annotated list of books for recommended outside reading. This website can be found at


UNIT TOPICS (approx. number of days, textbook chapters) /


UNIT 1: CHEMISTRY OF LIFE (12 days, Chaps. 2-6)
Chemistry review (matter, isotopes, ionic vs. covalent bonding, hydrogen bonding)
Properties of water (description of water properties and their importance for life, pH)
Structure and function of organic molecules (carbon skeletons, functional groups, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids)
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 2 - Enzyme Catalysis
UNIT 2: CELLS (18 days, Chaps. 7,8, 11, 12)
Effects of cell size and shape on surface area to volume ratio
Prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells and endosymbiotic hypothesis for origin of eukaryotes (compared in Lab: Measuring Cells)
Endomembrane system and other membrane bound organelles
Cytoskeleton and animal and plant cell junctions
Membrane structure and passive transport
Active transport mechanisms
Cell division
Regulating the cell cycle
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 1 – Diffusion and Osmosis
Diagram/label Stages of Plant & Animal Mitosis
AP Bio Lab 3A.1 & 2 - Mitosis
UNIT 3: MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (15 days, Chaps. 16, 17, 18, 20)
Viruses and the hereditary molecule
Watson-Crick model for DNA structure; DNA replication
Gene-protein link
Protein synthesis and point mutations
Gene recombination in prokaryotes
Gene regulation in prokaryotes (Operon hypothesis)
Organization and control of eukaryotic genome
Techniques of genetic engineering
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 6A - Bacterial Transformation
DNA Extraction of Cheek Cells
AP Bio Lab 6B - Gel Electrophoresis
UNIT 4: CELL METABOLISM (14 days, Chaps. 9,10)
Glucose oxidation without oxygen (glycolysis and fermentation)
Glucose oxidation with oxygen (cellular respiration)
Efficiency and regulation of glucose oxidation; harvesting energy from other organic molecules
Fitness of light for powering life
Light energy capturing reactions
Carbon fixing reactions (C-3 vs. C-4 photosynthesis)
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 5 - Cell Respiration
AP Bio Lab 4 - Plant Pigments & Photosynthesis
UNIT 5: PLANT STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION(20 days, Chaps. 35, 36)
Plant anatomy and primary vs secondary growth
Transpiration and its regulation
Evolution of plant life cycles
Plant hormones and plant behavior
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 9B - Plant Tissue Types and Arrangements
AP Bio Lab 9A -Transpiration
UNIT 6: HEREDITY (14 days, Chaps. 13, 14, 15, 19)
Meiosis and gametogenesis
Eukaryotic chromosomes
Inheritance patterns
Chi square problems
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 7 – Genetics of Organisms
AP Bio Lab 7 – Statistical Analysis Section
UNIT 7: EVOLUTION AND TAXONOMY(19 days, Chaps. 22, 23, 24, 25)
Evidence for evolution
Theories for evolution
Population genetics and microevolution
Effects of natural selection on genetic structure of populations
Species and modes of speciation
Tempo and trends of macroevolution
Phylogeny, systematics, and taxonomy
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 8 - Population Genetics Simulation
AP Bio Lab 8 – Population Genetics and Evolution
UNIT 8: ANIMAL DIVERSITY AND DEVELOPMENT (14 days , Chaps. 32, 33, 34, 47)
Evolutionary patterns
Survey of the diversity of life
Phylogenetic classification
Evolutionary relationships
Unit exam / Practice the Use of Classification Keys
UNIT 9: ANIMAL STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION (28 days, Chaps. 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49)
Structural, physiological, and behavioral adaptations
Response to the environment
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 10 -Physiology of the Circulatory System
UNIT 10: PLANT REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT (8 days, Chap. 29, 30, 38, 39)
Reproduction, growth, and development
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 11 - Animal Behavior
UNIT 11: ECOLOGY(8 days, Chap. 52, 53, 54)
Characteristics of populations
Community ecology
Energy flow in ecosystems
Material cycling in ecosystem
Unit exam / AP Bio Lab 12 - Dissolved Oxygen and Aquatic Primary Productivity

STUDENT EVALUATION/ASSESSMENT: Written homework assignments, classroom participation, lab reports, quizzes, and tests are the primary basis for evaluating student achievement in this course. I award up to an additional 5% extra credit each term for completing an approved outside reading log and report. Homework assignments include teacher-designed worksheets and end-of-chapter problem sets from the textbook. Since the textbook provides answers to some of the problems, I expect students to check their own answers and annotate those items with which they had difficulty. Attendance and appropriate learning behaviors (e.g. staying awake, participating in class discussion and lab activities, bringing needed materials) are the main criteria for assessing class participation. Being “Prompt” and “Prepared” are two of the main rules of the WHHS! Correct and appropriate presentation of data and data analysis (e.g. charts, graphs, calculations) and clearly expressed answers (in complete sentences and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar) to assigned questions demonstrating comprehension of relevant concepts determine the scores on lab reports. Quizzes and tests are a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions attempting to simulate the format of the AP exam. It is your responsibility to get work completed and turned in on time.

COURSE MATERIALS: We use Campbell, Reece, and Mitchell’s Biology (5th edition, copyright 1999 by Benjamin/Cummings, an imprint of Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.) as our textbook. A complementary computer CD (Interactive Study Partner) accompanies each book and provides tutorials, practice quizzes, and web links for each text chapter. I supplement the textbook with my own lab manual that includes all of the 12 recommended lab activities (or their equivalent) plus additional labs and supplementary worksheets. In addition I supply an annotated list of a wide range of books related to the topics in the course.

OUTSIDE READING: To earn extra credit students may spend up to 200 minutes each nine-week term reading a book relevant to the subject of the course. Students may select a title from the reading list provided or choose their own book subject to approval by the teacher. To earn credit students must present reading log sheets listing the dates, the specific pages read, and time spent in outside reading. In addition students attach a written report (two page minimum) on their reading addressing TWO of the following topics:

  1. Scientific Process: What observations or questions, hypotheses, specific methods or techniques, or conclusions showed novel thinking or creativity? How does this reading illustrate the importance of cooperation or competition between two or more scientists communicating directly with each other or scientists making use of information collected by previous scientists? At what level(s) of biological organization (molecule, cell, organism, population, etc.) does your reading focus.
  1. Science Personalities: How does this reading illustrate the unique characteristics of individuals who involve themselves in scientific research? What motivates scientists to pursue scientific research? What are the values, fallibilities, biases, social conscience of scientists? What challenges did individual scientists confront in their careers? How did they respond to these challenges? What other interests do scientists have outside of their science careers?
  1. Science, Technology, and Society: How does this reading illustrate: (a.) how science has benefited technology and vice versa? (b.) how science and technology introduce new risks and benefits, problems and solutions, constraints and trade-offs for society? (c.) How scientific discoveries and resultant technologies affect the values and life styles of society?
  1. Personal Revelations: How has this reading amused you, excited you, amazed you, altered your opinions, and/or affected your own appreciation of life and your values? How do you assess the writing style and graphics in this reading? Why would you recommend or not recommend this reading to other students?


Author’s Last Name / Author’s First Name / Books
Darwin / Charles / The Origin of Species. 1859. available on internet: Revolutionary book which presents Darwin’s “long argument” for evolution of species by natural selection.
Diamond / Jared / Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York: W.W. Norton and Co, 1999. As an evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond opens our eyes to some simple yet powerful environmental effects on the development of human societies.
Gould / Stephen J. / Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes. New York: Norton, 1983. A collection of essays which illustrate, examine, and extend the study of Darwinian evolution. Each essay is a reprint of one of Gould’s articles in Natural History magazine.
Heinrich / Bernd / Mind of the Raven. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999. Bernd Heinrich, a college biology professor, shares his many observations and experiments on raven behavior. His narrative style explores the fascinations of a human mind as much as the mysteries of a raven’s.
Hölldobler / Bert and Edward O. Wilson / Journey to the ants : a story of scientific exploration. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1994. A fascinating narrated tour of the many species of ants observed by these two world reknowned formicologists.
Hubbell / Sue / Waiting for Aphrodite. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. Sue Hubbell explores the world of invertebrate animals, featuring millipedes, pill bugs, earthworms, sea urchins, and many others. Ms. Hubbell supplements her own observations with findings of other biologists whose research has specialized in the particular invertebrate described. Each chapter is self-sufficient and ends with a bibliography of references cited.
Lorenz / Konrad / King Solomon’s Ring. New York: Harper & Row, 1952. Delightful anecdotes of author’s experiences and investigations into animal behavior.
McPhee / John / Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1971. While exploring the wilderness areas they wish to develop, a mineral engineer, a resort developer, and a builder of gigantic dams encounter the militant conservationist David Brower. McPhee’s genuine affection for all the characters forces the reader to listen carefully and think deeply before coming to any conclusions.
Quammen / David / The Song of the Dodo. New York: Scribner, 1996. Travelogue which zigzags over planet earth tracing the adventures of scientists past and present as they explore biogeography, the study of the distribution of species. Documents the impact human activity is having on biodiversity.
Ridley / Matt / Genome. New York: Perennial of HarperCollins Publishers. 1999. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine.
Sacks / Oliver / The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat and other clinical tales. New York: Harper Collins, 1985. Deals with the author’s encounters with patients and the lessons he learns about neurology and brain function while treating them.
Sapolsky / Robert M. / Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: a guide to stress, stress related diseases, and coping. New York: W.H. Freeman, 1994. Fascinating accounts of research into animal and human behavior, the underlying physiology, and implications for the effects of life style on general health.
Schrodinger / Erwin / What is life?Mind and Matter. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1967. Originally published in 1944 and 1958 respectively, these two short books are an attempt by a theoretical physicist to prove that the processes of life can be explained by principles of chemistry and physics (reductionism). Reading What is Life? stimulated James Watson to search for the structure of DNA and E. O. Wilson to pursue his interest in biology.
Sykes / Bryan / The Seven Daughters of Eve. New York: W. W. Norton. 2001. In this national bestseller Sykes reveals how the identification of a particular strand of DNA that passes unbroken through the maternal line allows scientists to trace our genetic makeup all the way back to prehistoric times—to seven primeval women, the “seven daughters of Eve.”
Tinbergen / Niko / The Herring Gull’s World. Garden City: Doubleday, 1967. A classic study of the behavior of a common bird species. Tinbergen uses direct observations of Herring Gulls in their wild environment, simple field experiments, and brilliant deductions to analyze the functioning of the gull’s brain and nervous system and the implications for understanding the workings of the human mind.
Ward / Peter D. and Donald Brownlee / Rare Earth. New York: Copernicus, 2000. A geologist and an astronomer analyze the evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life and conclude that complex animal life may be unique to planet Earth.
Watson / James / The Double Helix. 1968. Autobiographical account of the people and events surrounding the momentous discovery of how an unexpected molecule stores and replicates genetic information.
Watson / James / Molecular Biology of the Gene. New York: W. A. Benjamin, 1965. A delightfully readable textbook based on a series of lectures this Nobel laureate presented to his introductory biology students at Harvard. Fascinating for its historical perspective on molecular biology soon after the discovery of the structure and function of DNA.
Weidensaul / Scott / Living on the Wind: across the hemisphere with migratory birds. New York: North Point Press, 1999. A very readable travelogue tracing the migratory routes of many bird species, exploring the current research into the mysteries of bird migration, and investigating the implications of this new knowledge for preserving biodiversity on earth.
Weiner / Jonathan / The beak of the finch : the story of evolution in real time. New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1994. Pulitzer prize-winning documentary of the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant into the microevolution of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands.
Weiner / Jonathan / Time, love, memory : a great biologist and his quest for the origins of behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1999. Well-written documentary of the personalities, investigations, and collaborations of Seymour Benzer and his students as they explore the genetics of fruit fly behavior and its implications for understanding human behavior.
Wilson / Edward Osborne / Naturalist. Washington: Island Press, 1994. A fascinating autobiography of how a young boy fascinated by nature, raised as a southern Baptist, and trained in a military academy became one of the foremost biologists of the 21st century.
Winn / Marie / Red-Tails in Love. New York: Vintage Books, 1999. A diary of encounters of humans with nature in New York City’s Central Park. Readers will participate in a drama of wildlife observation which highlights human love and care for the natural environment.


  • Be Prompt: Be in your assigned seats when the bell rings and have all materials ready to work. Late arrivals to class will be dealt with in a fair, but strict manner according to school policy.
  • Be Prepared: Come to class everyday with a writing utensil and your binder. Writing utensils will not be available.
  • Be Polite: Do not talk while the teacher or another student is talking. Raise your hand to speak.
  • Be Productive: No sleeping! Stay focused and working throughout the class period. Sleeping through an AP class is like going to the movies to sleep through it; why waste the effort!

LATE ASSIGNMENT POLICY: The late assignment policy is as follows: late work will not be accepted! You signed up for a college level course and should, therefore, be expected to work at that level throughout the year. Deadlines and due dates will be strict throughout the course. Because the material of the course is extremely important throughout the year, all assignments should be completed and turned in, even if not for a grade.

Here’s why you should still turn in late work, even if not for a grade:

  • You will still be working through the material, thus gaining knowledge of the material. Because you did not time to do a homework assignment does not mean that the content will not be on quizzes, tests, and the AP exam.
  • Work that is gone over in class could still be corrected on your late work; again, this will greatly improve your success in the class. Remember, it is your responsibility to keep up and determine what you need to work on throughout the course.
  • I will mark down in grade book that you completed and turned in the late assignment. These “points” could be used at the end of the grading period to bump you up if needed. Please do not rely on them to drastically change your grade. After all, if you are not doing homework your grade probably is not where your want it to anyway!

* If you are not in class but you are in school, any assignment due that day should be turned in that day. Consequently, any material gone over in class should be obtained from either a classmate or your teacher. There is no excuse for you not getting work turned in or missing a lecture!