Unit 5

January 7, 2019

Today we began with a discussion of the different types of air and water pollution we have learned about so far in class this year.  The handout provided to students today has listed all of the assignments for Unit 5 along with dates for the assignments.  Each assignment is due by the next assignment date.  For example today’s assignment will take 2 days and is due on January 9th which is when the next assignment will begin.  The outline provided for each assignment is what you need to cover in your notes or your mindmap.  Sometimes it is a question and sometimes it is a concept or vocabulary term you should be able to explain.  This is how I will generate pop quiz questions.  Expect a pop quiz this week.

I am not assigning any work for a grade through the online textbook.  The practice multiple-choice available on each unit assignment is optional.

Link for student assignments.  The vocabulary list for the unit 5 quiz is also found here.


Link for Unit 5 Test Review Guide (make your own copy for your Google Drive)



January 8, 2019

Slideshow for today:


Today we discussed the top three major problems associated with wastewater pollution, what contributes to an increased BOD, and stream macroinvertebrate species used as indicator species for water quality.

Homework is to complete Module 41 and be ready for a pop quiz tomorrow.


January 9, 2019

Well…thanks to wi-fi..or lack of…we did not have our pop quiz today.  Plan for a pop quiz tomorrow.  Some of you asked if it would include the slideshow class discussions.  The answer is no…only over your homework assignment for Module 41 (includes the Chesapeake Bay reading assignment).  Tonight you have your assignment for Module 42 and you have 2 days to complete this assignment.  You should at least read through Module 42 before tomorrow so you are ready for our class discussion.  The videos we watched today are part of the slideshow.

I was very pleased with the class participation today. Every class had the majority of the students listening, paying attention, and participating.  The shout out will need to go to fourth period.  They were really on top today with class participation.

We had some questions about manure lagoons today.  Manure lagoons are associated with concentrated animal feeding operations.  A manure lagoon is basically a pond of animal waste.  Manure lagoons are required to have a plastic lining to prevent contamination of ground water.  Some manure lagoons might be aerated to help speed-up the biological breakdown of the ammonia.  It too is an example of the nitrogen cycle at work.  Farmers can either sell their liquid organic waste or use for themselves on agricultural crops.  Many farmers will use the liquid nitrogen waste to fertilizer their pastures, corn fields, or hay fields.  This way the livestock which created the waste benefits from the livestock feed produced from the fertilized fields.

Would you want to live near a manure lagoon or near an agricultural field sprayed with liquid waste from a manure lagoon?

January 10, 2019

Today after the pop quiz we discussed how heavy metals, acids, and synthetic compounds can harm humans and other organisms.  Remember the heavy metals lead and mercury cause neurological issues (ability to learn, trouble walking, etc.), arsenic is a carcinogen, PCBs and DDT are both cholorinated hydrocarbons – persistent, bioaccumulate, and are endocrine disruptors.  Acid rain is created by the release of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere where it will combine with water to form acid rain.  Rainfall is naturally acidic.  Acid rain has a pH less than 5.6 (recall lemons have a pH of 2).  Acid rain damages leaves of plants, leaches nutrients from the soil, causes acidification of a waterways, harms protective covering of fish and salamander eggs, and leaches aluminum ions from soil to the water.  Lakes with high alkalinity can buffer against a low pH.  Your assignment for Module 42 should be done by class tomorrow.  Your homework for the weekend is Module 43.

January 11, 2019

Today we discussed oil pollution and ways to clean up oil spills, noise pollution as it relates to water, plastic pollution in the ocean and a strategy to cleanup the plastic in the ocean, thermal pollution (mostly caused by electric generating power plants), the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and best management practices to use to mitigate/prevent water pollution.  Students should be able to describe different types of water pollution and solutions for each.

The Clean Water Act serves to:

  • regulate the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waterways
  • attain water quality levels that make these waterways safe to fish and/or swim in
  • restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s water
  • set water quality standards to limit pollutants
  • require states and tribes to complete an assessment of all state rivers impacted, or
  • potentially impacted, by non-point pollution (Section 319)
  • reduce polluted runoff from urban areas and animal feeding operations (Section 319)
  • provide enforcement mechanisms (e.g. civil actions/criminal penalties) to ensure compliance
  • develop management plans to address problems
  • establish ongoing monitoring of local waterways
  • require discharge permits for effluent emissions
  • provide financial assistance to fund improvements/education/training
  • prevent habitat destruction
  • establish best practical control technology (BPT) to reduce pollution
  • establish best available, economic achievable technology (BAT) to reduce toxics
  • establish best management practices (BMPs) to reduce pollution.

Homework: Module 43 and the handouts provided in class.

January 14, 2019

Today you worked in teams to answer a series of questions related to what you learned last week.  Your team turned in your answers for a grade.  Anyone absent will need to come before school or during lunch to complete the assignment done in class today (you have 48 hours to arrange a day and time – must be done this week).

Homework: Module 44 and watch the following videos (be ready for a pop quiz)

Your goal should be to finish the videos and packet by Thursday morning.


Why have regulations if they are not going to be enforced?  Watch about the world’s dirtiest river?  How do you think you are connected to the world’s dirtiest river?  Even though pollution is not affecting us directly here at Milton, it does affect us indirectly.  How do you think this is so?


Extension Video (optional) This video will also be posted on the Unit 5 Resource Page


January 15, 2019

Today we completed an oldie, but a goodie for an environmental science activity.  The activity, Dragonfly Pond, is from the Project Wild Aquatic Education Activity Guide.
I was very impressed with how many of you really put some thought into the assignment and considered the pros and cons for your decisions as you developed the land around Dragonfly Pond (which some teams renamed).  I really liked how many teams solved their pollution problems by using mitigation strategies.  Below is a list of some ideas from all of you:
  • planting of trees to reduce noise pollution
  • planting of trees to reduce carbon footprint
  • planting of tress to reduce soil erosion to the river/stream
  • protecting the riparian zones around the pond and the river/stream
  • adding habitat corridors to mitigate habitat fragmentation
  • creation of artificial wetlands to help with runoff of nutrients and pesticides from farmland
  • constructing a pond to help cool water from the coal-burning power plant
  • the use of Smart Growth strategies to protect more habitat
  • adding a sewage system which led to the sewage treatment facility
  • adding a leachfield for the homes with septic tanks
  • the use of solar photovoltaic cells (solar energy)
  • treating effluent from the “factory” before it was released into the river/stream
  • the use of manure lagoons to capture waste from feed lot to then use on cornfield
  • creation of hiking trails and camping areas for the community
  • reducing how far one has to travel to work by having housing near the workplace
  • using scrubbers to reduce the air pollution emitted by the coal burning power plant
  • creation of a community garden
  • the addition of a recycling center
  • the creation of things for your community to make additional money – the “World’s Largest Rocking Chair”, air boat rides, kayaking on the river
  • a dog park with a collection can for the poo
  • ecological research center on the pond
  • restaurant located on the pond to make it more aesthetically pleasing
  • a wildlife center
  • a history museum
  • rent-a-bike 
  • walking bridges
  • bike trails
  • the use of fences to protect riparian zones and pond/river/stream from cows
  • ditches to capture your surface runoff to be treated before reaching the water

As you can see…we had a lot of great ideas today.  Good job!

As you reflect today on the activity think about the following questions:
  1. What were some of your challenges?
  2. How did you solve these challenges?
  3. What are some possible problems for the aquatic systems?
  4. What are some possible solutions to our problems?


Many of the teams chose to make sure any pollutants which did enter the river/stream were downstream of Dragonfly Pond.  But as you learned today, someone lives downstream and your waste problem can become their waste problem.


Here is my reflection.
  • Just because you place your cornfield, feedlot, and factories further away from aquatic systems it does not mean it will not have an influence on the water.  Our little stream which flows through Milton Wood is connected to Copper Sandy Creek which is connected to the Little River which combines with the Etowah to form Lake Allatoona and then from Lake Allatoona it is all part of the Etowah as it flows to the Coosa River and then the Coosa River connects to the Alabama River which empties into Mobile Bay.  So we can conclude we are connected to the Gulf of Mexico here at MHS.  We are part of the Coosa River Basin.  The city of Alpharetta and parts of the city of Milton are part of the Chattahoochee River Basin.  It all depends on which side of the hill you are located.  Water flows downhill – be it when it is on top of the ground (surface water) or it is below the surface (groundwater).
  • I should have mentioned to all of you that depending on the age of your gas station you could be contributing to groundwater pollution.  Some older gas stations still have the metal underground storage tanks for the gasoline.  These metal tanks over the years have begun to rust and leak gasoline into the groundwater.  We call these leaking underwater storage tanks (LUST for short).
  • I need to ask myself…do students know the difference between a pond, a lake, a river, a stream, and a creek?


What are we doing tomorrow?
  1. We will go down to the media center as a class for you to get your textbooks.  You will need to keep your textbook at home.  Your textbook is an important resource to help you with preparing for assessments and the AP Exam.
  2. When we return to class if we have time we will go over the practice FRQ you did yesterday.  You should have Module 45 completed by tomorrow.  Module 45 will help you answer the practice FRQ we used from the 2001 AP Exam (the FRQs have changed dramatically since 2001 but the content and requirements are the same).  Here is the link for the 2001 AP Exam question #4 (the link includes all 4 questions for the AP Exam).  Students who were absent should read through and try to answer the questions for FRQ #4.  https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/apc/envir_sci_01.pdf
  3. If we do not have time then you will be allowed to work on your next homework assignment or catch-up if you are behind.  The 23 minute video homework assignment from yesterday is blocked by Fulton County so you will need to watch it from home.  Those of you who have watched the video understand it is not nice to be compared to the world’s dirtiest river.
  4. Be prepared for a pop quiz this week (probably Thursday) over Modules 42, 43, 44, and 45 in addition to the Chattahoochee River video requirement.


January 16, 2019

Today we went to the media center to pick up your textbook for APES.  Several of you have already said you prefer reading through the textbook than using the online version (modules do not seem as long and easier to find stuff).

We discussed the practice FRQ you worked on as a team this past Sunday.  A link was provided by email yesterday and can be found under January 15 posting.

I really appreciate the students who do try to answer questions even when they are not sure if they are right or wrong.  Remember to watch out for assumptions.  For example, “the hog farm is adding pollution to the stream” vs. “it is possible the hog farm is contributing to the lower dissolved oxygen levels in the stream because the increase in hog waste means more bacteria demanding more oxygen (higher BOD).”

From our class discussion today you should be able to recall why an increase in organic waste is not always going to result in an algal bloom.

We even reviewed the nitrogen cycle somewhat today with talking about nitrification.  Shout out today to Parker J. for his correct answer about the nitrification process.

Tonight:  you should be starting Module 46 tonight (remember the page numbers do not match your textbook – they do your online version).  If you are behind you need to catch up and then start Module 46.  You have a pop quiz tomorrow over Modules 42, 43, 44, and 45 (not the videos).

January 17, 2019

Today we had pop quiz #2 for unit 5.  If you did not do as well as you wanted I suggest you go back and look at your mind maps you created for the Modules.  Just reading the Modules and listening to me is not enough.  See the Study Skills page of this website.

We discussed the Semester Project today.  I had several questions from third and fourth periods.  I can tell you that many students over the years have said this is the one school project they had to do that they really enjoyed.

I added some new material to the instructions for the Semester Project.  Look for “Frequently Asked Questions.”  Email me if you have an additional questions about the project.  

Homework:  Tonight and over the weekend you are working on Modules 62 and 64 from Chapter 19.  I want to remind you to not pay attention to page numbers in your textbook because they will not match my assignment sheet nor your online version of the textbook.

January 18, 2019

Students learned the difference between tropospheric ozone and stratospheric ozone.  We discussed the 6 criteria air pollutants which the EPA has set NAAQS to adhere to the Clean Air Act.  The AQI (Air Quality Index) is calculated using 5 of the criteria air pollutants excluding Pb.  Students need to not only be able to identify the sources of the 6 criteria air pollutants, but also describe how each of the 6 effect the environment and the health of humans.  Do not forget how carbon monoxide causes death of humans and animals.  Through the video students learned the difference between industrial smog and photochemical smog.  Smog is a secondary pollutant.  The three secondary pollutants students need to focus most on are nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and tropospheric ozone (found in photochemical smog).  Photochemical smog is brown in color because of the nitrogen.


January 22, 2019

Today was WhiteBoard Day!  Our topic of discussion was a review of the greenhouse effect (which many of you need to desperately review) and global climate change.   We began with the explanation of the greenhouse effect followed by the identification of the 5 major greenhouse gases along with their natural and anthropogenic sources.  We then had groups present how global climate change is affecting the environment, predictions for the future if these trends continue, solutions to reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, and closed with the cause and effect of ocean acidification.

SHOUT OUT TO THIRD PERIOD TODAY – Awesome job with presentations, cleaning up, and closure.

The Kyoto Protocol was the first International Treaty which attempted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but it really only focused on developed countries and not on developing countries like China.  The Paris Agreement is an international treaty which is asking for all countries to participate.

Addressing the problem of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is addressing it on a larger scale (different from you and me taking steps to lower our carbon footprint).  Some of these large scale efforts include a carbon tax, carbon farming, and carbon capture and storage facilities.

What’s a Carbon Tax?

A carbon tax is a fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels. Though levied “upstream” where the coal, oil or gas is extracted or imported, it charges fossil fuel users for the climate damage their fuel use causes by releasing heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Carbon Farming involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which COis removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or soil organic matter.

Check out this short video of a carbon trapping facility (makes for a good FRQ)



Homework:  Review for the pop quiz tomorrow over Modules 46, 62, and 64.  You can delay starting Module 47 because we will work on it in class tomorrow after you are done with the pop quiz.

January 23, 2019

Today was pop quiz #3 for Unit 5.  After the pop quiz students were allowed to work on their Module 47 mindmap.  At the end of class we discussed photochemical smog, inversion layers, and the cause and effects of acid deposition.  Homework is Module 48.  All students are expected to pace themselves and not fall behind in their assignments.  The further you fall behind, the harder it will be for you to earn a good grade on the Unit 5 test.

January 24, 2019

We had a good discussion about strategies used by coal-burning power plants to reduce air pollution (baghouse filters, electrostatic precipitators, and wet scrubbers).  Students also learned how a catalytic converter works to reduce air pollutants released from the combustion of gasoline in our automobiles.  We had a nice review of smog and limestone.  The math problem we worked in class which you can expect on the test is on page 537 of your online textbook.  We ended class discussing various strategies to reduce air pollution in cities.

A student asked about the dry ash which is collected from the baghouse filter and the electrostatic precipitator.  The dry ash becomes part of what we call coal ash.  Watch the following videos.



January 25, 2019

Reminder – you need to keep up with your daily assignments or you will keep getting further and further behind.  

The discussion today was on stratospheric ozone.  

  • Explain the benefits of stratospheric ozone and how it forms.
  • Describe how stratospheric ozone is depleted and why it is a problem.
  • Identify sources of ozone-depleting compounds.
  • Explain the efforts to reduce ozone depletion.

There was a handout to go along with the first video watch today.

We ended class today with thoughts about coal ash which is a byproduct of burning coal for energy.  Coal ash can be both an air and water pollutant.  We watched as a class the 2 videos under January 24 (above).

Here is an article related to the after effects of the Kingston coal ash spill which happened 10 years ago in Tennessee.  There was a lawsuit won by workers who were exposed to coal ash during the clean up of the spill.  It states 30+ workers are dead and 250+ people related to the coal ash clean up are sick or dying.

Jury: Jacobs Engineering endangered Kingston disaster clean-up workers


This next video is a 60 minutes segment about the Kingston coal ash spill…you will want to watch this one after you read through the article.


January 28, 2019

After the pop quiz we first discussed noise pollution before we transitioned to indoor air pollution.  A handout was provided to assist you with learning the sources and health effects of some indoor air pollutants.  You will need to go through the slideshow and complete sick-building syndrome on your own.  

By Wednesday you will need to have Modules 51 and 52 completed.  We have one more pop quiz for unit 5.  I am not sure when.

Anyone who missed the pop quiz today need to plan to arrive by 8am Wednesday for the make-up.  Check your email and this website for information about any changes if the weather does not cooperate for us Wednesday.

Use this time you have been given to not only complete your daily assignments, but to also complete any work you have not completed.  Check out the test review guide…you will see it matches with your daily assignments and the slideshow.  I will be re-arranging the slideshow for waste management to match the order of the modules.

Have you watched all of the video assignments?

Here is a good video for APES students on indoor air pollution.


January 30, 2019

Today was a lot of “trash-talk.”  Students learned a little about sanitary landfills and E-waste.

Reminder – we have a vocab quiz tomorrow.  Module 52 is also tonight.

Reminder – you are responsible for reviewing sick-building syndrome on your own.  See video above.

Here is a video about the garbage of New York City and where it goes.  You might be surprised about some of this information.


What about the FRQs for the Unit 5 test?

FRQ topics (you are not receiving the actual questions now, but you are going to be given the topics which I will choose from for your FRQ.  You will only have one FRQ and it will be worth a total of 10 points. It will look similar to the FRQs you see on the AP Exam.

  • Photochemical smog
  • Acid deposition
  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand
  • Integrated waste management
  • Heavy metals and other chemicals in our waterways
  • Global climate change


January 31, 2019

Today we  had our vocabulary quiz.  Anyone absent today need to plan to take their quiz during the first half of their lunch next week.

Students worked on Module 53 and picked up next week’s schedule along with the condensed version of the test review.



February 1, 2019

Class discussion was about the pros and cons for the 3 R’s of solid waste management and different strategies used to deal with hazardous waste.  Students were reminded brownfield sites are not the same as superfund sites.  We watched three videos about plastic recycling, aluminum recycling, and single-stream recycling.  Students are responsible for watching all videos posted on the slideshow.

Here is the link for TerraCycle.  Check out how this company is taking recycling to a new level.  I did not think this company would last…I was proven wrong.


Here is a video you need to watch about LD50/ED50.  This video is for APES students.  Listen to the advice the instructor gives about what you need to know for the AP Exam.


February 8, 2019

Due to the assembly scheduled Friday for Juniors and Seniors we moved the last pop quiz for Unit 5 to Monday before the FRQ portion of the test.
Friday in class students shared their mindmaps with their peers for their peers to provide feedback about the content of the mindmap they reviewed.  I want your mindmap you worked on last week to be turned in Tuesday.  If I collected it Friday how would you have used it to study.  I will be looking at content on your mindmap when I grade it.
We have discussed already how a mindmap should be organized – color, connecting lines, examples, pics, etc.  This time the focus was on content.  Was the content of your mindmap adequate enough for you to answer test review questions?  If not, then your mindmap needs work.  My thoughts after questioning each class topics which will be on the test it is my hope most of you are spending some time this weekend and reviewing for the test.  I cannot stress to you enough that reading over the material is not enough.  I was very pleased several of you asked for more mindmapping paper to so you can make mindmaps for the other two topics because the mindmap you completed for the assignment really helped you.  Mindmapping is a good way to review, especially if you do not have a study group.  Another strategy is to teach what you have learned to someone else – maybe a parent or sibling.  Use the test review guide to help guide you to what you need to know for the test.
On the website the Unit 5 Class Resources should be a source you use to prepare you for the test.  The test review guide can also be found here (you were provided a hard copy two weeks ago and an electronic copy at the beginning of the semester).
Last Week’s Assignments

Test Review Guide – go to Unit 5 Class Resources page on website

February 11, 2019


Today was part one of the test.  The FRQ is worth up to 10 points.  After students turned in their FRQ they completed Pop Quiz #5 for Unit 5.  Tomorrow is the multiple-choice portion of the test.  I am somewhat concerned since many of you struggled today.  My classroom will be open at 7:30am tomorrow for anyone wishing to come in and study and ask questions.

At this moment there are no bonus questions for this test.  If I were to change my mind they will be from the articles from In the News on my website.

February 12, 2019

Part two of the test was today.  Homework is to read Module 24.


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