With over 60 classes to choose from and only eight periods available, it’s no wonder the students of Mountain View High School are having a tough time choosing what classes to take for their upcoming year. That being said, the addition of Environmental Science AP and Psychology AP are making that decision a whole lot more difficult and are in high demand among students of all grades.
AP Environmental Science is a brand new class at MVHS and is focused on the numerous environmental issues in our era and how our generation can help.
According to AP Environmental Science course overview by the College Board, students will “explore and investigate the interrelationships of the natural world, identify and analyze environmental problems, both natural and human-made, evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them.”
“The main purpose is to understand the Earth’s dynamic and how humans impact it,” AP Environmental science teacher Ms. Faught said. “It will definitely include a lot of exploring through labs, designing and calculating.”
The class includes hands-on lab investigation, observations and field work to study the environmental problems in our local ecosystems. It covers “scientific principles, concepts and methods in order for students to better understand our natural ecosystems and to critically think about the environmental issues and potential solutions,” College Board writes.
Although Environmental Science includes a variety of topics from different areas of study, there are a few major themes that supply the foundation for the AP class. The ideas that the Earth is an interconnected system and that human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems are among the themes that AP Environmental Science focuses on.
While the class does have leeway in how it is run and how the ideas are portrayed, the main ideas are uniform among all the AP Environmental Science classes around the globe. The main topics of earth systems and resources, the living world, population, land and water use, energy resources and consumption and global change each make up around 10-15% of the class while pollution accounts for 25-30%.
“It’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart” Ms. Faught said, “I’m excited that I get to teach something that I really love.”
The AP exam that most students take at the end of the year is approximately three hours long and has two parts, multiple choice and free response. The multiple choice section is worth 60% and the free response section is worth 40% of the final exam grade. The test consists of the main ideas mentioned earlier.
Along with AP Environmental Science, AP Psychology is also a new and popular class among MVHS students. The class, taught by Ms. Gabriel, focuses on understanding how “psychologists use research methods and critical analysis to explore human behavior,” College board writes.
The class will explore different theories and perspectives such as behavioral, biological, humanistic, sociocultural and psychodynamic theories. Students will be asked to analyze methods of psychology used to study types of behavior and mental processes and evaluate the validity of psychology as a whole and the significance of its contribution.
“The purpose of the AP course in Psychology is to introduce the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals,” College Board writes, “included is a consideration of the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology.”
In this particular AP class, there are 14 different subfields students will study such as social psychology, cognition and motivation and emotion that each contain multiple themes within the fields. AP Psych students will also learn about ethics and methods psychologists use in their practice. The weight of each theme varies from 5%-10%.
“It would be kind of a combination of community builders and work. I envision a lot of hands-on work and simulations that help us understand concepts like aggression better,” AP Psych teacher Gabriel says. “If you don’t build community, it won’t be a rich class, because you need to have kind of a love for each other in order to go deeper.”
When asked how she thinks students will respond to the new class, she believes everyone will be pretty interested.
“You’re talking about your life and relationships, why wouldn’t you be!”