Go for the Green – Lesson for AP Environmental Science

This is the final post in a series on using Population Education in APES. Check out the series overview here!

A challenge for any AP Environmental Science course is often the balancing act between the hard and soft sciences. Our first two posts in this series highlighted the laboratory activities, Power of the Pyramids and Mining for Chocolate, which ground student inquiry within the scientific process. This final post will showcase the complimentary approach; demanding students analyze environmental issues from sociological, political, and economic perspectives.

In Go for the Green, an activity set in the format of a board game, students play their way through a variety of scenarios that may or may not have an impact on the world’s rainforest lands. It is up the student to evaluate the situation and choose an outcome based on his or her decision-making prowess. There are no inherently right or wrong answers for any of the scripted situations, but every path includes an associated risk: either the loss or gain of points tied to the environment or economy. Throughout the game students simulate the very real dilemmas that exist when human demands for development come in conflict with conservation of natural resources. And because the activity is layered with complexities that exhaust student knowledge of APES content and skills, it is ideally suited for the end of a unit and can be incorporated as a formative assessment of student learning. The lesson is originally from the Population Education high school curriculum Earth Matters, a collection of 32 readings and 43 activities designed for educating global citizens.

Go for the Green’s Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Make decisions based on qualitative criteria.
  • Communicate the rationale behind their decisions to fellow classmates, and evaluate their conclusions.

Connection to AP Environmental Science

Go for the Green pulls content knowledge from a number of APES units, covering material from APES topics IV through VII. Nita Ganguly, an APES teacher at Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, TN, incorporates this activity in the middle of a unit on renewable and nonrenewable resources, specifically targeted towards student understanding of forests and rangelands. This sample syllabus can be found in the College Board’s official AP Environmental Science Teacher’s Guide. Additionally, Go for the Green fulfills many thematic requirements of APES in a very organic way, as students themselves are altering the natural systems where the scenarios take place. Each choice is communicated by the student to his or her playing partner(s) and the conclusion is evaluated by all those playing.  It is in that exchange of ideas, between students, where the real value of Go for the Green exists, and why it has become a recommended activity for APES.