Environmental Science - 01

FIRST DAY STUFF - we'll review this pretty quickly (this is an AP course after all)

  • Seating charts -- Random assignment by alphabet:
  • Review expectations:  You're in HIGH SCHOOL now, and as I'm sure you know it's quite a bit different from middle school.
  • Class Rules:  I tend to keep them simple:

    1) Show Respect

  • This is a pretty big deal folks... I'd argue that there is really no downside to being respectful. Even and especially when you don't think you should.

    Let's discuss.

    Now let's get first names and such displayed for our MS crew

2) Make Good Decisions

I'd rather not have to elaborate on this but doing your own work is absolutely critical.

Copying and pasting someone else's work or anything that even smells like that will not go well for you.

That means I call you in with your parents and you get to explain to all of us why you don't understand that (keep in mind that we won't believe you)

I also have the option of writing you up so that will go on your permanent school record.

I'm VERY serious about this.

3) Solve the Problem


Fire Drill and other safety tips

    • If you are in my class or headed to my class and the alarm bell rings, my meeting area is in left side of the student parking area.

    • If you're ever not sure, just head to the parking lot and ask one of the teachers or other staff where to go....

    • If we are in lockdown:
      • We will lock the doors and cover the widows
      • Please look to me for guidance.
      • We will NOT be passive--- let's discuss
  • Overview of MR W's teaching methods.
    • MR W's Web site is KEY!

    • We will grade you on your learning, not on your doing
    • The emphasis here is giving you the opportunity to show your most gracious and humble teachers and TAs just what you've learned.
    • No extra credit, please don't ask
    • I don't grade on a curve (Except for AP Phys C, but that's a different story)
    • Homework is time for you to practice what we want you to learn and is therefore not graded but IS marked for completion or missing.

We are also VERY fortunate to have a couple of other adults who are VOLUNTEERING to assist in class this summer. That means they get our EXTRA special thanks and most gracious and humble gratitude!

General Schedule -- this will change from time to time as we get more involved with a daily activity.

Please note: These times are approximate, if we get carried away on something we'll just keep doing it for as long as we want!


8:00 - 8:15 Opening

  • Let's randomize and get into groups

Take a few moments to get to know your group. In a few moments I'll use our class randomizer to call on a few people to stand and tell us about the folks in your group.

  • General Class Rules -- (I keep it simple)

    • Show Respect

    • Make Good Decisions

    • Solve the Problem

    • NEVER say "I don't know". That just doesn't work for me. However, you will ALWAYS have a chance to talk with your group before being called on. If you haven't finished doing that when I call on you, I'll stop and wait and give you another chance to talk with your group.

    I will almost always use an online randomizer to call on you!

  • Introduction to the seminar format: A really good way for this to work is for you folks to interrupt (yes, really!) me with questions or comments... I'm happy to talk about related issues to. Being an ACTIVE learner (as opposed to just listening and writing) is HUGE

  • Field Trips: We have four scheduled so far:
    • Harbor Wild Watch - Penrose Beach (This Friday!)
    • Mt St Helens
    • Nisqually Delta National Wildlife Refuge
    • Gig Harbor Sewage Treatment Plant

    PLEASE NOTE: This is an environmental science class and we have some OUTSTANDING opportunities to get out and observe the environment that we don't have during the regular school year.

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE Get your field trip forms in TOMORROW!!!

    Mt St Helens Forms are HERE


Assigning and verifying PSD Log ins using our chrome books

    • Keep in mind that you MUST use your assigned computer every day, no exceptions (for obvious reasons)
    • Since my web site is the main source of information for this class, let's practice going there now:



Learning how to use the Lab Quest Pro data collection device:

There is one main data collection unit (The Labquest)

There are multiple probes that plug into the main unit

  • temperature
  • sunlight intensity ("pyranometer")
  • air pressure ("barometer")

Using Google Docs data entry forms/tables to collect weather data HERE (also easily available on my web work page)

sharing Google Docs

Laminated sheets: identifying cloud types

Determining the type of weather data we can collect... and how

Using Google Docs

Go to Google Docs and create a "Daily Notes & Reflections Log". Please name that document using your last name, first initial followed by "Daily Notes & Reflections".

For example, my name is Eric Wolgemuth, so I would name that document "WolgemuthE Daily Notes & Reflections"

Share that document with me

Go to our classroom web site, click on Resources and click on weather data

By the by, you'll need a PSD login...

Let's practice!

We will use this information to start actually PREDICTING the weather each day as part of our conversations starting NEXT Week
BREAK (9:30 - 9:45)

Daily observations #1 (9:45 - 10:15)

Recording Data in Google Docs


Compare your data with the other group (s)

Introduction to THOUGHTFUL Writing (10:15 - 11:30)

We'll do a fair amount of writing in this course, especially regarding our field trips. An important part of that will involve how well you relate your learning from those field trips by comparing what you knew before the trip to what you know afterwards.

That will include writing to a series of prompts.

Please note that in this class, if you provide a response (written or otherwise) that is "Good Enough", I'll assign you a grade that is also "Good Enough" (usually a C/C-).

HERE are some guidelines to help you write thoughtfully

Let's do a little bit of practice...

Work with your group to *suggest* topics for environmental science (anything at all)

Now come up with at least 3 questions relating to that topic

Using THOUGHTFUL writing, let's work to answer those questions and evaluate our responses

Reading/Discussion (10:45 - 11:30)

Grab a National Geographic, Scientific American or Smithsonian Magazine.... Skim the pages, look at the pictures and read the captions.  If you find something interesting having to do with the Earth or the Environment, show it to the person next to you-- Why did it catch your eye?

Be prepared to share <briefly> your topic/article with the class.

LUNCH (11:45 - 12:15)
Session #1: Formation of the Earth & Moon (12:15 - 1:15)

Opening Question: What method do you suppose that scientists use to calculate the age of the Earth? (Please turn and discuss this question with your group and then write down a *thoughtful* response to that question)

By the way, what is your best estimate of the age of the Earth?

Learning Target: I will be able to explain to a bright 12 year old how the Earth and Moon were formed after today's class.

Words O' the Session:

  • Solar System ("Our sun's family")
  • Solar Nebula -- ("Massively huge dust cloud")
  • Matrix - ("Meteor glue")

Work O' the Session:

Please have a conversation with your group and suggest how the solar system was formed.

Sometime about 5 billion years ago, there was a big ol' massive dust cloud where our solar system now exists.

That cloud consisted of dust and gas (particularly HYDROGEN) which is key to the formation of our solar system:

All those bits of dust and gas attract each other through gravitational attraction, and eventually they start pulling on each other and develop into a Solar Nebula-- which is basically a huge cosmic whirlpool of dust and gas:

  1. Notice that smaller bit collide with bigger bits and very often those bits stick together.
  2. Also, the collision produces heat, which causes the bits to go faster, which causes more collisions, which causes more heat, and bits go faster and collide harder releasing more heat and so forth and so on until we get planets and the sun!

Let's do a fun exercise to show how this works... we'll go out to the hall and use our bodies to represent the original dust clouds.

3. Notice that there is still a tremendous about of small (and NOT so small bits in the solar system). Those bits will float around crashing into each other and the planets for hundreds of millions of years.

Here's a picture I took of a cross-section (a slice!) of a meteor that crashed to Earth:

Notice that you can actually see the individual pebbles and small bits of dust that crashed into that object during the millions and billions of years that it traveled through the solar system.

It may interest you to know that the black material in between the bits is actually called "the matrix" by scientists who study meteors and meteorites.


Let's take a few moments to do a fun kind of activity to see how bits stick together to form bigger bits!


I was really fortunate to (twice!) attend a workshop for science teachers at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (in fact Mr Trebly who many of you know from Goodman went last year and is going this year too!) and that's where I got to actually pick up pieces of meteorites like that.

Anyhow-- I actually met one of the scientists who *first* came up with the currently accepted theory on how the moon was made:

==> Let's take a few moments to talk about that:

Key Points:

1) The Earth was very nearly destroyed

2) The lightest elements floated around the Earth for millions of years and finally came together to make the moon

3) The heaviest elements such as iron, nickel and radioactive elements such as uranium migrated to the center of the Earth


Takeaway: Why is it SOOOOO important that those heavy elements stayed on Earth?

AFTERNOON DATA (1:00 - 1:15)
Formation of the Earth and Moon (continued) (1:15 - 1:55)
Break (1:55 - 2:05)
2:05 - 3:00 Understanding Fossils

OPENING QUESTIONS: Make a bulleted list (this is NOT IQIA) of types of fossils you have personally seen in person, read about, or seen in movies or TV.

OBJECTIVE:  I will have a general working knowledge of how a fossil is created after today's class.


  • Fossil ("A rock imprint of formerly living organism")


  • Let's do another 'stream of conscious" sorta list of words that come to mind when you hear the word 'fossil' (once again let's have two people writing those terms down for the whole class)
  • Choose 8 - 10 words from our list
  • Make sure each person in your group knows what each word means
  • Work with your group to write a narrative using those 8 - 10 words
  • What questions come to mind now?

Let's discuss