AP Biology

AP Biology: An 11th/12th Grade Core/Elective Course

Teacher: Mrs. Langley; E-mail: jlangley@mvusd.net


  • Students will be able to view biology through the integration of 4 big ideas:
    • Big idea 1: The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
    • Big idea 2: Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.
    • Big idea 3: Living systems store, retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes.
    • Big idea 4: Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties
  • Students will be able to use 7 laboratory practices:
  1. The student can use representations and models to communicate scientific phenomena and solve scientific problems.
  2. The student can use mathematics appropriately.
  3. The student can engage in scientific questioning to extend thinking or to guide investigations within the context of the AP course.
  4. The student can plan and implement data collection strategies appropriate to a particular scientific question.
  5. The student can perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence.
  6. The student can work with scientific explanations and theories.
  7. The student is able to connect and relate knowledge across various scales, concepts and representations in and across domains.
  • Students will be able to use inquiry to design/conduct experiments and draw conclusions based upon evidence
  • Students will be able to express what they have learned through writing, modeling and other assessments
  • Students will be prepared to take the AP Biology Exam

Comments from Past Students (Class of 2015):

Criteria - “Potential students must…”

  • Do not procrastinate
  • Be self-motivated to complete work and assignments
  • Work within a lab group and do your work for your lab group
  • Be willing to ask questions in class and as well as out of class.
  • Be willing to work outside of class on lab activities, research and group assignments.
  • This course really prepared them for the AP Test

How do you know if you are prepared?

  • If you did well (learned the concepts) in Chemistry and Biology.

Comments from the Instructor

  • Students, who keep up with all their work, retake tests and are willing to ask questions, always pass this class with a C or better.
  • Using digital lab equipment, computer modeling and scientific inquiry are both challenging and rewarding.

Sample Unit

Unit 3:  Cellular Energy and Related Processes (13 Classes)   Big Ideas: 1, 2, 4

 Chapters: Read and text note for

8.  An Introduction to Metabolism

9.  Cellular Respiration

10. Photosynthesis

 Overview of Lecture and Discussion Topics:

1.  Metabolic pathways

2.  Laws of Energy Transformation

3.  How ATP powers cellular work

4.  Enzyme structure and function

5.  Harvesting chemical energy: glycolysis, citric acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation

6.  Light reactions and the Calvin cycle

7.  Evolution of alternative mechanism of carbon fixation   



1.  From Practicing Biology, 3rd Edition  (SP 1)

     Activity 9.1 A Quick Review of Energy Transformations.

     Activity 9.2 Modeling cellular respiration:  How can cells convert the energy in glucose to      ATP.

     Activity 10.1 Modeling photosynthesis: How can cells use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide and

     water into glucose (10.1 Test Your Understanding) Activity 10.2 How do C3, C4, and CAM photosynthesis

     compare?  (Connection of Big Idea 2 to enduring understanding 1.A)

2.  THE EVOLUTION OF THE CELL: <http://learn.genetics.utah.edu>  The endosymbiotic theory explains

      how relatives of ancient bacteria ended up in modern-day cells. A whole class discussion is used to analyze  

      the endosymbiotic theory, encouraging students to question how prokaryotes can carry on energy transfer  

      processes without true membrane bound organelles.  Students are given 5 minutes to write a conclusion to   

      the discussion on a post-it note for posting on their way out of class. (SP 3, 6)


Big idea #2 Laboratory Investigations:

1.  Laboratory: Students will be allowed to explore with the Pasco probe ware system and a gas pressure probe, learning how to set up a timed experiment. Concepts related to enzyme structure and function will have been learned. In this inquiry-based investigation, students will design an experiment to test a variable on the rate of reaction of catalase with hydrogen peroxide. Appropriate materials will be available to them to test the     variable of their choice and to explore to find answers to open-ended questions that they have. Mini Posters      will be prepared for presentations to the class of the outcome, including rate calculations and meaning of      data as it relates to enzyme structure and function. (Supports Big Idea 2; SP 2, 3, 4, 5)

 2.  Pea Respiration.  Using knowledge of the process of cellular respiration and of how to set timed experiments using the Pasco Spark Probe ware and either carbon dioxide or oxygen gas probes, students will engage in the process of inquiry as they conduct an experiment to measure the rate of cell respiration in germinating peas at room temperature. Next, students will design a controlled experiment to answer a question of their choice that  they asked while conducting the experiment at room temperature.  Students will collect and determine cellular respiration rates and demonstrate an understanding of concepts involved in preparing a report on their laboratory research.  (Supports Big Idea 2; SP 2, 3, 4, 5)

3.  Photosynthesis Laboratory:  Student-directed and inquiry-based investigations about photosynthesis using      the floating leaf disc procedure.  A write-up of the design and discussion of the outcome will be kept in their laboratory research notebook.  (Supports Big Idea 2; SP 2, 3, 4)