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Summer Assignment

AP Biology Summer Assignment

Welcome to AP Biology!

The AP Biology curriculum has recently been revised. The entire course now focuses on the four “Big Ideas” below:
Big idea 1: The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
Big idea 2: Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.
Big idea 3: Living systems store, retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes.
Big idea 4: Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties

Course outline: (You can just google “ap biology course description” and find the link.)


One of the main changes in the AP Biology curriculum is in the laboratory component. AP Biology students are expected to design many of their own experiments instead of the traditional “cook-book” type labs. This is more of an inquiry based approach to science. We will work throughout the year developing the skills necessary to design inquiry based experiments. However, you will get started with this during the summer by designing your own plant experiment.

Our AP Biology course has very high expectations and there is little time to waste. To ensure that you are successful in the class and on the AP Exam next May, we need to start before class begins. These assignments will be helpful in easing the transition back to school in August.

AP Biology Summer Assignment: Plant Experiment (DUE: August 17, 2019)

Design and conduct an experiment about plants. This may be done alone or with a partner. You may choose to investigate something to do with plant growth, light, fertilizer, root development, pollination etc... Any topic about plants is okay.

Go online and search for ideas. Don't stress about this, instead have fun while learning! It is okay if everything doesn't turn out "right". This assignment is supposed to get you to think like a scientist, ask questions, and try to find answers. (Details attached)

I suggest that you use plants that you can commonly find at a local nursery or Home Depot or Lowes. Some suggestions are: beans, tomatoes, peppers, petunias or marigolds. Try to choose something hardy and easy to grow. You could also use plants growing in your yard, but this may make it more difficult to control the variables.

Lab Notebook: 40 points

____    All entries are dated and organized (all stages of experiment, multiple entries for data) (3)
____    Background research about plant topic is included; you may print some things or include web links (5)
____    Question / problem is clearly stated (3)
____    Hypothesis is clearly stated (3)
____    Independent and dependent variables are clearly stated (3)
____    Controls are described (3)
____    Materials needed are listed (3)
____    Procedures are clearly listed; drawings included as needed (3)
____    Data has been recorded in a student designed chart or table (5)
____    Analysis of data is described (3)
____    Errors or problems encountered are indicated throughout the lab journal (3)
____    Conclusions are clearly stated (3)

Mini-poster and presentation

**Specific guidelines for mini-posters will be discussed during the first week of school**

You will create a mini-poster detailing your experiment and share it with the class. As you are conducting your experiment, please take pictures, draw, take notes or otherwise record (and keep!) things that you would like to share with your class regarding your experiment.

Details for Plant Experiment Assignment
Follow these guidelines for your plant experiment:

You will need to document all work by taking pictures of your materials, location, and plants at all stages of the experiment. You will create a mini-poster presentation (based on the guidelines given in class) that documents your experiment and monitoring. We will be presenting these in class during the first few weeks of school.

You will also need to keep a lab notebook. Use this like a journal. Date and document all phases of your research, experimental design, data collection, conclusions, errors or problems encountered and suggestions for possible future research. Do not erase content put into lab notebooks, in order to make corrections, draw a single line through what needs to be changed (make sure you can still read the old hand writing) and rewrite near, above, or on the side of what was crossed out.

If you are working with a partner, ONE mini-poster presentation will be created during the first week of school but EACH person needs to keep their own lab notebook.

An experiment is an organized series of steps used to test a theory or an idea. Experimental design is a specific set of steps that is organized such that the results are as valid as possible. The purpose of experimental design is to eliminate experimental error and to ensure that the results are due to the factor or factors being tested. The experiment, based on a testable hypothesis that was inferred from research, must be repeatable.

Student Objectives for AP Biology Labs:

• Choose which variables to investigate

• Design and conduct experiments • Design their own experimental procedures

• Collect, analyze, interpret, and display data

• Determine how to present their conclusions

Steps for the Plant Experiment:

Step 1: Stating the Purpose/Problem What do you want to find out? Write a statement that describes what you want to do. It should be as specific as possible. Often, scientists read relevant information pertaining to their experiment beforehand. The purpose/problem will most likely be stated as a question such as: "What are the effects of______ on________?”

Step 2: Defining Variables
INDEPENDENT VARIABLE (IV) (also called the manipulated variable) — the variable that is changed on purpose for the experiment; you may have several levels of your independent variable.
DEPENDENT VARIABLE (DV) (also called the responding variable) — The variable that acts in response to or because of the manipulation of the independent variable.
CONSTANTS (C) — All factors in the experiment that are not allowed to change throughout the entire experiment. Controlling constants is very important to assure that the results are due only to the changes in the independent variable; everything (except the independent variable) must be constant in order to provide accurate results.

CONTROL GROUP - For some experiments, a control (standard of comparison for checking or verifying the results of an experiment) is necessary. All variables must be held constant in the control group.

EXPERIMENTAL GROUP — The group(s) being tested with the independent variable; each experimental group has only one factor different from each other, everything else must remain constant.

REPEATED TRIALS — The number of times that the experiment is repeated. The more times you repeat the experiment, the more valid your results will be.

Step 3: Forming a Hypothesis A hypothesis is an inferring statement that can be tested. The hypothesis describes how you think the independent variable will respond to the dependent variable. It is based on research and is written prior to the experiment...never change your hypothesis.
For example: The rate of the reaction will increase when the temperature increases. Never use "I" in your hypothesis (i.e. I believe that...)
It is OK if the hypothesis is not proven by the experiment as long as an explanation is given in the conclusion. The hypothesis is usually written in an "if, then, because..." format.

Step 4: Designing an Experimental Procedure
Select only one thing to change in each experimental group (independent variable). Change a variable that
will help test the hypothesis.
The procedure must tell how the variable will be changed (what are you doing?). The procedure must explain how the change in the variable will be measured. The procedure should indicate how many trials would be performed (usually a minimum of 3-4).
It must be written in a way that someone can replicate (copy) your experiment, in step by step format.

Step 5: Results/Data
Qualitative Data is comprised of a description of the experimental results (i.e. larger, faster....).
Quantitative Data is comprised of numbers results (i.e. 5 cm, 10.4 grams) The results of the experiment will usually be compiled into a table/chart for easy interpretation. A graph of the data (results) may be made to more easily observe trends.

Step 6: Conclusion What have you discovered from this experiment?
What conclusions can be made?
How does the data support your conclusion?
You should indicate any flaws in the research and errors or problems that were encountered.
How could this experiment be improved?
Any ideas for future study?