Environmental Service Systems

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary course covering a wide variety of topics including biology, physics, geology, ecology, chemistry, geography, astronomy, meteorology, oceanography, and engineering. The course also considers ways in which human populations affect our planet and its processes. Of special emphasis is the concept of sustainability as a means of using resources in a way that ensures they will always be around us. The unifying concepts that tie the different areas of environmental science together are as follows:

  • Science provides a way to learn more about the world and influences how we understand it.
  • Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes. 
  • The Earth is one interconnected system.
  • Humans change natural systems.
  • Environmental issues have a cultural and social context.
  • Human existence depends in part on increasing practices that will achieve sustainability.

Students at this level should show development in their understanding of scientific inquiry. The course provides hands-on labs and research to aid in arriving at a deeper understanding of the environment and the impact of humans on it today and in the past. The labs will call upon students to analyze many different processes and systems, arrive at conclusions, and determine ways in which every person can positively influence the environment.

  • Environmental Science Semester One: Students explore the field of environmental science studies, including ecology, terrestrial biomes, and human impact on the environment. 
  • Environmental Science Semester Two: Students will explore energy resources, climate change and pollution.

Curriculum Content and Skill Focus

Semester One

  • understand some environmental features of places all over the world
  • describe the role of fossils in the discovery of the Earth’s history
  • differentiate groups of time on the geologic timeline
  • recognize the features of each layer of the Earth 
  • understand the role of oxygen in photosynthesis
  • explain why water is an important natural resource
  • explain how the majority of Earth’s water is not available for human use because it is either saltwater in the oceans or locked up in the polar ice caps
  • explain that rocks and minerals are natural resources and describe the terms depletion time and mineral reserve
  • identify and order the levels of organization from smallest to largest: organism, species, population, community, ecosystem, biome, biosphere
  • summarize the importance of energy flow and cycling of matter in an ecosystem
  • compare age structure diagrams for stable, expanding, and declining populations
  • describe methods of sustainable agriculture
  • discuss the origin and current problems of national parks, wildlife refuges, and nature preserves in the U.S. and other countries
  • discuss various mining options by describing how they operate and their environmental advantages and disadvantages
  • describe the basics of the aquaculture industry and its advantages and disadvantages

Semester Two

  • understand energy transformation, energy efficiency, and the law of conservation of energy
  • distinguish between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources
  • describe the history and trends of energy use in the United States
  • compare contrast oil and natural gas in terms of supply and environmental impact
  • discuss some advantages and disadvantages to the use of coal
  • discuss issues related to the use and development of synthetic fuels, including their advantages and disadvantages
  • understand the basics of nuclear power
  • describe some advantages and disadvantages of hydroelectric power
  • describe the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy
  • describe the advantages and disadvantages of wind power
  • explain the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy
  • describe the advantages of hydrogen fuel
  • explain the effects of outdoor and indoor air pollution on human health
  • explain the environmental effects of acid deposition
  • explain global warming, its causes, and its effects
  • describe some ways to prevent and reduce air pollution
  • describe the effects of noise pollution on people and wildlife
  • identify common water pollutants and their effects on the environment
  • describe treatment and disposal methods for hazardous waste
  • discuss the types and sources of hazards that humans face from their environment
  • describe the major resource and environmental problems of urban areas
  • contrast environmentally sustainable and unsustainable economic growth
  • describe how economic tools can be used to improve environmental qualit

State: National
Grade Level: 9, 10, 11, 12
Category: Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
Course Length: Semester