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AP Bio summer letter June 2016

Welcome prospective AP Biology student,

            Here are some guidelines and expectations for our course along with information about your summer assignment:

  • Biochemistry will be a backbone of what we discuss in the fall and throughout the school year. I suggest you review some of the basics of chemistry as we start up school in the fall.
  • You should expect to do work outside of class and having access to an online device will be critical as we will be using the online site that goes with our textbook for weekly online assignments.
  • As this is an Advanced Placement class, it is my expectation that you will take the AP Bio test the second Monday of May 2017.

Summer Assignment information

            We will begin the year by discussing ecology and I would like you to read one of the following books so that we can have conversations about their content during the first weeks of school next fall. I have over 30 copies of A Sand County Almanac available to check out. I also have an extra copy of For Love of Lakes if you would like to borrow this book.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson: This controversial book is considered by many to be a cornerstone in the conservation movement. Rachel Carson writes about the widespread impact of  pesticides and other environmental chemicals.


A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold: “A Sand County Almanac combines some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau with an outspoken and highly ethical regard for America's relationship to the land.” Through a collection of essays, Leopold examines many aspects of nature and how everything is intertwined.


For Love of Lakes by Darby Nelson: For Love of Lakes weaves a delightful tapestry of history, science, emotion, and poetry for all who love lakes or enjoy nature writing. Nelson tries to explain the paradox of why people love lakes, but continue to do things that ruin them. This is an important read for all of us who live in the land of 10,000 lakes.




The second part of the summer assignment will be an extracurricular activity scavenger hunt. Complete the task listed, and provide the appropriate documentation (indicated in parentheses). You must complete 5 of the following options, documented as listed.  If you complete and document 5 extra activities, you will receive five bonus points on your Ecology unit essay.

  1. Watch the news/Check the Google News Aggregator/Read a newspaper at least once a week, listen to a podcast. (copy of article, or log of date/URL and a 1-sentence summary of a news item from each week)
  2. See a movie in a theater. Make sure it's a good one. (ticket)
  3. Listen to loons. (sound recording)
  4. Grow a plant. (living plant brought to class on day 1)
  5. Go to two state parks and take a walk. (photos & maps)
  6. Go see the Triceratops in the Science Museum of Mn. (selfie & ticket)
  7. Go to an outdoor concert. (photo & some other evidence of the show: sound recording, program, ticket stub, (if it wasn’t a free concert.))
  8. Go to a water-based amusement park. (photo & ticket)
  9. Go to at least 2 beaches. (small container of sand, unless it’s in a state park & photos)
  10. Catch a cicada. (molt)
  11. Sleep outside, under the stars. (photo)
  12. Raise a monarch from caterpillar to butterfly and the release it. (photos of your caterpillar & butterfly)
  13. Read at least one book that is not required for any other class. (title, photo, & 3 sentence summary. I will check with your other teachers.)
  14. Play the board game “Settlers of Catan” or “Risk”, or the card game “Apples to Apples” or cribbage. (photo)
  15. Canoe, kayak or Stand up paddle on a river or lake. Go rock climbing outside. (photo)
  16. Create a minimum of three pages for a nature journal.  They should include dates, sketches, location and description of your observations. (pages)
  17. Play at least two rounds of Frisbee golf. (photo & map/score card)
  18. Identify three species of birds that you see over the summer. (pictures & genus/species of each)
  19. Identify three species of tree in your neighborhood. (leaves & genus/species of each)
  20. Hold five earthworms OR three minnows. (photo)
  21. Learn to tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies. Take a picture of one of each (photo)
  22. Plant a vegetable garden, a pollinator garden or trees. (photo)
  23. Catch and release a firefly. (photo)
  24. Go see a movie at a drive-in theater. (photo & ticket)
  25. Go see live theater. (ticket, program or some other piece of evidence from the performance)

Check my school website in August to find out any updates for the beginning of the school year.

If you run into difficulties, send me an email at I will try to get back to your email, but as it summer, I don’t check school email more than a few times a month.

I look forward to a great year in AP Bio,

Mr. Hamilton