Environmental Science: Ecology and Population Dynamics (ParishVirtual)

Click here for link to assignment details: Describe a Local Ecosystem
Click here for a link to the Course Calendar

Environmental Science: Ecology and Population Dynamics

Mr. Craig Savage


Contact             E-mail - csavage@parishepiscopal.org




Course Description:

This course takes a broad look at Ecology and Population Dynamics. It is the equivalent of one trimester of Environmental Science. Students will be asked to integrate detailed information regarding biological processes into broader thematic schemes.  Students will develop analytical and field study skills necessary to investigate modern Ecology issues.  Topics include an overview of ecology, descriptions of the major biomes on the planet, ecological succession, population demographics and growth, community interactions, resource exploitation, energy flow through systems, nutrient cycling, and the human impact on the environment.   The course requires that students conduct their own field research, collecting, analyzing and reporting data.


Information will be presented via online video lectures and articles.  Note packets/study guides (provided by the instructor) will be essential tools for developing mastery of the content.  The face to face meetings will be used to fill gaps, make clarifications, work on interpreting data gathered in the field, discuss field study methodology and help with developing skills for web presentation.


Students will have to be motivated and and disciplined enough to work autonomously.  Students will create and maintain an online portfolio (webpage) to document and display their work.  The course is divided into 7 tasks that each require the student to research and collect data describing a local ecosystem of their choosing.  Students are encouraged to collaborate with others in the course to develop their understandings.  There will be a dynamic online environment where students can ask questions and share ideas.  In order to move to the next section a student is required to score 80% (or better) on a mastery assessment. 


Students will be evaluated using the mastery quizzes as well as on the completion and quality of their 7 tasks as displayed on their portfolio.  A small class participation grade will be based on helpful interactions in the online environment and in the face to face classrooms.   Students are encouraged to seek out resources to aid in their understanding and to be creative yet accurate in their presentation. 


There will be 10 scheduled face to face classes and students are required to attend at least five.  However, for every scheduled class they miss they must make a direct connection with the instructor either via email, text message, or phone call so there are at least 10 direct contacts.


Course Objectives:     

  • To successfully complete an introductory ecology course. 
  • To encourage students to work independently and collectively to research and integrate new understandings of previously learned biology topics.
  • To engage in real field study experiences and report on the process and results.
  • To learn how to interpret and draw conclusions based on data.




GRADING:                            7 - Tasks                                             55%

                                                7- Mastery Quizzes                          40%

                                                Participation                                     5%





Abbreviated Course Outline:             

Intro to Ecology Part 1 – Scope, definitions, biomes and abiotic factors

Intro to Ecology Part 2 – Changes in ecosystems – succession

Population Ecology – demographics, dispersion, and growth

Community Ecology – Interactions within and between species

Ecosystem Part 1 – Energy Flow – trophic levels, food webs, productivity

Ecosystems Part 2 – Nutrient cycling

Human Impact on the Environment





            Class Expectations


1. Student engagement is just as important in an online course as in a traditional classroom. Although each student will work mostly from home on a flexible schedule, we encourage each student to develop the self-discipline to Watch videos, read articles and take notes to identify topics of difficulty.

2. Stay on pace with the calendar. Students’ daily participation is an essential element of a rich and meaningful experience in the course. Turn in assignments on (or before) checkpoints. Checkpoints are ‘soft deadlines’ designed to help students stay on-track to complete the course within the scheduled time frame. Courses in ParishVirtual allow maximum flexibility: students are welcome to move from one checkpoint to the next at their own pace, but you are expected to communicate with me regarding missed deadlines.

3. Do not wait for information to come to you.  Go get it.  Be organized.  Keep all of your notes in one location so that you can easily access it.

4. You must master one section before moving on to the next section.

5. Students are to be HONOR BOUND  - Students must produce original work. The Parish Episcopal School’s Honor Code is always in effect.


Please treat our online discussion spaces (blogs, wikis, etc.) as classroom spaces. Speech that is inappropriate for class is not appropriate online. While we encourage each student to engage in discussion and conversation with others online, we also expect that all will conduct themselves in a manner reflective of The Parish Way:

·         Strive to contribute positively to our collaborative learning environment: be sure comments are factually correct, sensitive, and respectful. When you have doubts, hold off, save your reply to a draft folder, reread, and possibly edit it later.

·         Be careful about the tone of your messages. Tone is conveyed not only by the words you use, but also by the use of exclamation points, all capital letters, and emoticons (symbols for smiles J, frowns L, etc.).

·         Be sure that you give credit to sources you quote or paraphrase. Plagiarism is a serious offense; the Parish Honor Code is in force.

·         Remember, contributing to an online discussion is a public activity. Anything that gets posted to the Internet stays here. Forever.

·         Never give out personal information online. These pages exist as a public space on the Internet. Please "sign" your comments with first name and last initial only.

·         We aspire to create an on-going deliberative dialogue: a safe, respectful on-line community that engages in conversations to learn from each other, rather than to debate and 'win.'