5 Steps to a 5: AP Biology - Mark Anestis 2021
This course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success; it specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand to qualify for college credit or placement.
This material is printed with permission of the College Board and comes from the AP Biology Course and Exam Description Guide.
Source: AP BIOLOGY COURSE AND EXAM DESCRIPTION Copyright © 2019 The College Board. Reproduced with permission. http://apcentral.collegeboard.com
The course framework includes two essential components:
The science practices are central to the study and practice of biology. Students should develop and apply the described practices on a regular basis over the span of the course.
The course content is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide a suggested sequence for the course. These units comprise the content and skills that colleges and universities typically expect students to master to qualify for college credit and/or placement. This content is grounded in big ideas, which are crosscutting concepts that build conceptual understanding and spiral throughout the course.
The following table presents the science practices that students should develop during the AP Biology course. These practices form the basis of many tasks on the AP Biology Exam.
The unit guides that follow embed and spiral these practices throughout the course.
Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on the big ideas that encompass core principles, theories, and processes of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students for advanced work in STEM and life science—related majors.
The big ideas serve as the foundation of the course and allow students to create meaningful connections among course concepts. Often, they are abstract concepts or themes that become threads running throughout the course. Revisiting the big ideas and applying them in a variety of contexts allow students to develop deeper conceptual understandings. Following are the big ideas of the course and a brief description of each:
Big Idea 1: Evolution (Evo)
The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life. Evolution is a change in the genetic makeup of a population over time, with natural selection as its major driving mechanism. Darwin’s theory, which is supported by evidence from many scientific disciplines, states that inheritable variations occur in individuals in a population. Due to competition for limited resources, individuals with more favorable genetic variations are more likely to survive and produce more offspring, thus passing traits to future generations. A diverse gene pool is vital for the survival of species because environmental conditions change. The process of evolution explains the diversity and unity of life, but an explanation about the origin of life is less clear.
In addition to the process of natural selection, naturally occurring catastrophic and human-induced events, as well as random environmental changes, can result in alteration in the gene pools of populations. Scientific evidence supports that speciation and extinction have occurred throughout Earth’s history and that life continues to evolve within a changing environment, thus explaining the diversity of life.
Big Idea 2: Energetics (Ene)
Biological systems use energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain dynamic homeostasis. Cells and organisms must exchange matter with the environment. Organisms respond to changes in their environment at the molecular, cellular, physiological, and behavioral levels. Living systems require energy and matter to maintain order, grow, and reproduce. Organisms employ various strategies to capture, use, and store energy and other vital resources. Energy deficiencies are not only detrimental to individual organisms, but they can cause disruptions at the population and ecosystem levels. Homeostatic mechanisms that are conserved or divergent across related organisms reflect either continuity due to common ancestry or evolutionary change in response to distinct selective pressures.
Big Idea 3: Information Storage And Transmission (Ist)
Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes. Genetic information provides for continuity of life, and, in most cases, this information is passed from parent to offspring via DNA. Nonheritable information transmission influences behavior within and between cells, organisms, and populations. These behaviors are directed by underlying genetic information, and responses to information are vital to natural selection and evolution. Genetic information is a repository of instructions necessary for the survival, growth, and reproduction of the organism. Genetic variation can be advantageous for the long-term survival and evolution of a species.
Big Idea 4: Systems Interactions (Syi)
Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions exhibit complex properties. All biological systems comprise parts that interact with one another. These interactions result in characteristics and emergent properties not found in the individual parts alone. All biological systems from the molecular level to the ecosystem level exhibit properties of biocomplexity and diversity. These two properties provide robustness to biological systems, enabling greater resiliency and flexibility to tolerate and respond to changes in the environment.