The Process and Practice of Science

We will begin our course with a brief overview of how science is done, and continue with this theme all year long.  To learn science, you have to DO science--it is not simply enough to sit and listen about it.  Throughout the course, you will be engaged in various kinds of lab investigations ranging from confirmation labs, where you confirm a known principle, to those investigations that give you the opportunity to devise your own experimental questions and designs to solve a problem. 

Not only will we learn about the components of an experiment, and how to design an investigation so that relevant data are collected, we will also learn how to carry out experiments in a safe manner.  Safety is and always should be your primary concern when in the lab!

During this unit of study, and throughout the course, you will:

  • Use representations and models to communicate scientific phenomena and solve scientific problems.
  • Use mathematics appropriately.
  • Engage in scientific questioning to extend thinking or to guide investigations within the context of the AP course.
  • Plan and implement data collection strategies in relation to a particular scientific question.
  • Perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence.
  • Work with scientific explanations and theories.
  • Connect and relate knowledge across various scales, concepts and representations in and across domains.
Below, you will find the materials and handouts you will need for this unit. 

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Resource NameResource TypeDescription of ResourceFile
Resource NameResource TypeDescription of ResourceFile
Science Safety Contract File This contract is the standard safety contract we adhere to when participating in lab activities in class. Lab Safety Contract 
Safety Contract Acknowledgement Form Web Site This form can be used in lieu of printing off the signature page of the safety contract. This will serve as your acknowledgement of the safety rules our class is governed by. Safety Contract Acknowledgement Form 
Learning Log Instructions File You will need to read over this in order to understand how the learning log we will set up this year works. Learning Log Instructions 
Learning Log Grading Rubric File This is the grading scale that will be used to evaluate your learning logs, should you choose to maintain them. BILLs that meet the exemplars listed will earn 10 bonus points toward unit exam grades. BILL Grading Rubric 
LabWrite Web Site This site will guide you through both the experimental design and lab reporting process. Our reporting format is very similar to the LabWrite format. LabWrite 
Lab Report Format and Rubric File Here is the format you should follow for all labs, including full lab reports. The grading scale is also included so that you can see what you can earn points for. Lab Report Format and Rubric 
Intro to AP Biology Labs Video This vodcast will introduce you to the scientific method and experimental design, as we will spend much of our time in the lab designing investigations. Intro to Lab Work in AP Biology 
Introduction to Experimental Design File Our first lab activity will give you a taste of what designing a scientific investigation entails. We'll be studying the factors affecting seed germination in this first lab of the year. Seed Germination Investigation 
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