AT Environmental Science and Field Research

This course is a college level integrated study of tropical ecology and environmental science. In additional to the fundamental concepts of ecology, students will study, analyze and evaluate a wide range of environmental issues both natural and human-generated, connections between science, technology and society, and solutions for mitigating, resolving and preventing environmental problems. Investigations will include both lab and fieldwork. Students will be prepared to take the College Board APES Exam.

What are the major projects you will complete in this course?

Each student will participate in a required five-day field trip to Tioman Island, Malaysia at Melina Beach. SAS will subsidize the trip to reduce the financial burden on each family; however, students will be required cover the reduced fee for transport, accomodation, insurance and Ecofieldtrips ecologist guides.

Students will conduct tropical ecology field investigations in the pristine tropical rainforest and marine environments of Tioman on the following components: Primary versus secondary forest ecology, mangrove zonation, soil and freshwater water quality including macroinvertebrate survey, beach structure, population density of intertidal organisms, coral reef biodiversity and disturbed versus undisturbed reefs, sea turtle reproductive behavior and conservation.

In addition, students will observe and research peninsular Malaysian palm oil plantations and urbanization to compare and contrast with pristine Tioman ecosystems in order to analyze policies, approaches, practices, laws, regulations that exist or may be created to ensure conservation, preservation and environmental protection of Tioman Island ecosystems and biodiversity.

Advanced Placement exam is available for this course.

Advanced Placement (AP) exams are available for this course. For more information on Advanced Placement, click here

Course Details

Martha Began

"You should take this course if you are interested to learn how scientific and humanitarian issues have informed the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and if you wish to build skills in nature observation of our Southeast Asian ecosystems, extracting, graphic, and analyzing environmental data, and identifying solutions and taking personal action."

AT Environmental Science and Field Research

ID: 44036 Grade: 10-12 Length: Year
Credit: Life Science
Prerequisite: Semester I grade of B+ or higher in Accelerated Biology plus concurrent enrollment in a chemistry class is required to select this course in grade 10. Semester II grade of B or higher in Biology or Accelerated Biology, plus Semester I grade of B+ or higher in Chemistry or B or higher in Accelerated Chemistry are required to select this course in grades 11 or 12
Note: The Advanced Topic (AT) designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. This course has a grade point weighting of 0.5.

This course offers an intensive, year-long inquiry into the integration of nature, society, economy, and wellness. Grounded in science, students in the class will explore a wide range of environmental issues both natural and human-made. Designed for students who already have a solid grasp of biological and chemical sciences and can demonstrate a passion for examining solutions and alternatives for resolving, decreasing, and preventing environmental problems. The course will feature a variety of units to develop an understanding of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals through investigation of ecological services, the value of biodiversity and natural resources, and creative work toward the collaborative reduction of human ecological and carbon footprints. Students will develop insights into global cultures in less and more economically developed societies and build empathy for myriad worldviews through role-playing and panel debates on hot-topic issues. Fieldwork investigations will take students out of the classroom into regional terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to conduct field research culminating in a college-level co-authored paper. Science and engineering practices will be applied through collaborative lab work and analysis of environmental quality, to determine ecosystem integrity. Students will be prepared to take the College Board AP Environmental Science exam.

What Our Students Say


This course requires a high level of dedication and organisation, but the effort is worth it; the course seamlessly weaves together a number of topics into a picture of the current state of the environment. You don’t have to love the environment to take this course; I took the course not caring that deeply about the environment, and it opened my eyes to the modern-day issues associated with consumption and climate change. The course combines complex readings with hands-on fieldwork and a comprehensive environmental report, imitating the structure of a master’s degree. This makes the course both challenging and incredibly rewarding.”

Siobhan Spillane,
Class of 2019


Consider taking AP Biology before or during this course because it will help with many of the basics in AT Environmental Science and Field Research. Be prepared to dedicate time outside this course and have a passion for learning about the environment and how we can help this world. Dr. Began is so passionate about the subject and so friendly so you feel very comfortable and genuinely enjoy your time in the classroom. If you want to have an educational experience that doesn't adhere to the traditional regimented structure of the AP courses then this would be the right course.”

Ethan Pizano,

Results that Matter


Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams


of 3's, 4's, and 5's received in AP exams in 2018


Advanced Topics (AT) courses


of the Class of 2018 graduates were awarded cum laude commendations