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AP® Biology, Semester 1 (SCI500A)

AP® Biology, Semester 1 (SCI500A)

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Quick Overview

This college-level science course guides students to a deeper understanding of biological concepts including the diversity and unity of life, energy and the processes of life, homeostasis, and genetics. Students learn about regulation, communication, and signaling in living organisms, as well as interactions of biological systems. Students carry out a number of learning activities, including readings, interactive exercises, extension activities, hands-on and virtual laboratory experiments, and practice assessments.

Teacher-Led Course (one-time payment)   $450.00

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Course Overview

This course guides students to a deeper understanding of biological concepts, including the diversity and unity of life, energy and the processes of life, homeostasis, and genetics. Students learn about regulation, communication, and signaling in living organisms, as well as interactions of biological systems. Students carry out a number of learning activities, including readings, interactive exercises, extension activities, hands-on laboratory experiments, and practice assessments. These activities are designed to help students gain an understanding of the science process and critical-thinking skills necessary to answer questions on the AP Biology Exam. The content aligns to the sequence of topics recommended by the College Board.

Course Outline

Semester 1

1: Invitation to Biology

· Application: Secret Life of Earth

· Life Is More than the Sum of Its Parts

· How Living Things Are Alike

· How Living Things Differ

· Organizing Information About Species

· The Science of Nature

· Analyzing Experimental Results

· The Nature of Science

2: Life’s Chemical Basis

· Mercury Rising

· Building Blocks of Matter

· Why Electrons Matter

· Chemical Bonds

· Hydrogen Bonding and Water

· Acids and Bases

3: Molecules of Life

· Fear of Frying

· The Chemistry of Biology

· Lipids

· Proteins

· Nucleic Acids

4: Cell Structure

· Food for Thought

· What Is a Cell?

· Introducing the Prokaryotes

· Introducing the Eukaryotic Cell

· The Endomembrane System

· Mitochondria

· Chloroplasts and Other Plastids

· The Cytoskeleton

· Cell Surface Specializations

· The Nature of Life

5: Ground Rules of Metabolism

· A Toast to Alcohol Dehydrogenase

· Energy in the World of Life

· Energy in the Molecules of Life

· How Enzymes Work

· Metabolic Pathways

· Cofactors

· A Closer Look at Cell Membranes

· Diffusion Across Membranes

· Membrane Transport Mechanisms

· Membrane Trafficking

6: Where It Starts – Photosynthesis

· Biofuels

· Overview of Photosynthesis

· Sunlight as an Energy Source

· The Light-Dependent Reactions

· The Light-Independent Reactions

7: Releasing Chemical Energy

· Risky Business

· Introduction to Carbohydrate Breakdown Pathways

· Aerobic Respiration Continues

· Aerobic Respiration Ends

· Fermentation

· Alternative Energy Sources in Food

8: DNA Structure and Function

· A Hero Dog’s Golden Clones

· Discovery of DNA’s Function

· Discovery of DNA’s Structure

· Eukaryotic Chromosomes

· DNA Replication

· Mutations: Cause and Effect

· Cloning Adult Animals

9: From DNA to Protein

· Ricin, RIP

· DNA, RNA, and Gene Expression

· Transcription: DNA to RNA

· RNA and the Genetic Code

· Translation: RNA to Protein

· Consequences of Mutations

10: Control of Gene Expression

· Between You and Eternity

· Regulating Gene Expression

· Regulating Gene Expression in Development

· Regulating Gene Expression to Adjust Metabolism

· Epigenetics

11: How Cells Reproduce

· Henrietta’s Immortal Cells

· Multiplication by Division

· A Closer Look at Mitosis

· Cytoplasmic Division

· Marking Time with Telomeres

· When Mitosis Is Dangerous

12: Meiosis and Sexual Reproduction

· Why Sex?

· Meiosis in Sexual Reproduction

· Visual Tour of Meiosis

· Meiosis Fosters Genetic Diversity

· An Ancestral Connection

13: Observing Patterns in Inherited Traits

· Menacing Mucus

· Mendel, Pea Plants, and Inheritance Patterns

· Mendel’s Law of Segregation

· Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment

· Non-Mendelian Inheritance

· Nature and Nurture

· Complex Variation in Traits

14: Chromosomes and Human Inheritance

· Shades of Skin

· Human Chromosomes

· Autosomal Inheritance

· X-Linked Inheritance

· Changes in Chromosome Structure

· Changes in Chromosome Number

· Genetic Screening

15: Studying and Manipulating Genomes

· Personal Genetic Testing

· DNA Cloning

· Isolating Genes

· DNA Sequencing

· Genomics

· Genetic Engineering

· Designer Plants

· Biotech Barnyards

· Editing Genomes

16: Evidence of Evolution

· Reflections of a Distant Past

· Old Beliefs and New Discoveries

· Evolution by Natural Selection

· Fossils: Evidence of Ancient Life

· Changes in the History of Earth

17: Processes of Evolution

· Superbug Farms

· Alleles in Populations

· Genetic Equilibrium

· Patterns of Natural Selection

· Natural Selection and Diversity

· Nonselective Evolution

· Reproductive Isolation

· Models of Speciation

· Macroevolution

18: Organizing Information About Species

· Bye Bye Birdie

· Phylogeny

· Comparing Form and Function

· Comparing Molecules

· Comparing Development

· Phylogeny Research

19: Life’s Original and Early Evolution

· Looking for Life

· The Early Earth

· Organic Monomers Form

· From Polymers to Protocells

· The Age of Prokaryotes

· A Rise in Oxygen

· Origin and Evolution of Eukaryotes

Semester 2

20: Viruses, Bacteria, and Archaea

· The Human Microbiota

· Virus Structure and Function

· Viral Replication

· Viruses and Human Health

· Prokaryotic Structure and Function

· Metabolic Diversity in Prokaryotes

· Major Bacterial Lineages

· Bacteria as Pathogens

· Archaea

21: Protists-The Simplest Eukaryotes

· Malaria: A Protistan Disease

· A Diverse Collection of Lineages

· Excavates

· Stramenopiles

· Alveolates

· Rhizarians

· Archaeplastids

· Amoebozoans and Opisthokonts

28: Plant Nutrition and Transport

· Leafy Cleanup

· Plant Nutrients

· Root Adaptations for Nutrient Uptake

· Movement of Water in Plants

· Movement of Organic Compounds in Plants

29: Life Cycles of Flowering Plants

· Plight of the Honeybee

· Floral Structure and Function

· A New Generation Begins

· Flower Sex

· Seed Formation

· Fruits

· Early Development

· Asexual Reproduction of Flowering Plants

30: Communication Strategies in Plants

· Prescription: Chocolate

· Chemical Signaling in Plants

· Auxin and Cytokinin

· Gibberellin

· Abscisic Acid and Ethylene

· Movement

· Responses to Recurring Environmental Change

· Responses to Stress

31: Animal Tissues and Organ Systems

· Making Replacement Cells

· Animal Body Plans

· Epithelial Tissue

· Connective Tissues

· Muscle Tissue

· Nervous Tissue

· Organ Systems

· Human Skin

· Maintaining Homeostasis through Negative Feedback

32: Neural Control

· Impacts of Concussions

· Animal Nervous Systems

· Cells of the Nervous System

· Electrical Signaling in Neurons

· Chemical Signaling by Neurons

· Neurotransmitter Function

· The Peripheral Nervous System

· Cells and Tissues of the Central Nervous System

· The Spinal Cord

· The Vertebrate Brain

· The Human Cerebral Cortex

· Emotion and Memory

· Studying Brain Function

34: Endocrine Control

· Endocrine Disruptors

· The Vertebrate Endocrine System

· The Nature of Hormone Action

· The Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland

· The Pineal Gland

· Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands

· Pancreatic Hormones

· The Adrenal Glands

· The Gonads

· Invertebrate Hormones

35: Structural Support and Movement

· Bulking Up

· Animal Movement

· Types of Skeletons

· Bone Structure and Function

· Joint Structure and Function

· Skeletal Muscle Function

· How Muscle Contracts

· Nervous Control of Muscle Contraction

· Muscle Metabolism

36: Circulation

· A Shocking Save

· Circulatory Systems

· Human Cardiovascular System

· The Human Heart

· Vertebrate Blood

· Arteries and Arterioles

· Blood Pressure

· Exchanges at Capillaries

· Back to the Heart

· Blood and Cardiovascular Disorders

· Interactions with the Lymphatic System

37: Immunity

· Community Immunity

· Integrated Responses to Threats

· Surface Barriers

· Mechanisms of Innate Immunity

· Antigen Receptors

· Overview of Adaptive Immunity

· Adaptive Immunity I: An Antibody-Mediated Response

· Adaptive Immunity II: The Cell-Mediated Response

· When Immunity Goes Wrong

38: Respiration

· Carbon Monoxide—A Stealthy Poison

· The Nature of Respiration

· Invertebrate Respiration

· Vertebrate Respiration

· Human Respiratory System

· How We Breathe

· Gas Exchange and Transport

· Respiratory Adaptations

· Respiratory Diseases and Disorders

39: Digestion and Nutrition

· Breaking It Down

· Animal Digestive Systems

· Human Digestive Tract

· Chewing and Swallowing

· The Stomach

· The Small Intestine

· The Large Intestine

· Nutritional Requirements

· Maintaining a Healthy Weight

40: Maintaining the Internal Movement

· Urine Tests

· Fluid Volume and Composition

· Excretory Organs

· The Human Urinary System

· How Urine Forms

· Regulating Solute Levels

· Impaired Kidney Function

· Excretory Adaptations

· Heat Gains and Losses

· Responses to Cold and Heat

41: Animal Reproduction

· Assisted Reproduction

· Modes of Animal Reproduction

· Organs of Sexual Reproduction

· Sex Organs of Human Females

· Female Reproductive Cycles

· Sex Organs of Human Males

· Bringing Gametes Together

· Contraception and Infertility

· Sexually Transmitted Diseases

42: Animal Development

· Prenatal Problems

· Stages of Animal Development

· From Zygote to Gastrula

· Tissue and Organ Formation

· Evolutionary Developmental Biology

· Overview of Human Development

· Early Human Development

· Emergence of Distinctly Human Features

· Structure and Function of the Placenta

· Labor, Birth, and Lactation

43: Animal Behavior

· Can You Hear Me Now?

· Factors Affecting Behavior

· Instinct and Learning

· Movements and Navigation

· Communication Signals

· Mating and Parental Behavior

· Group Living

· Altruism and Eusociality

44: Population Ecology

· Managing Canada Geese

· Population Demographics

· Modeling Population Growth

· Limits on Population Growth

· Life History Patterns

· Predation Effects on Life History

· Human Population Growth

45: Community Ecology

· Fighting Foreign Fire Ants

· What Factors Shape Community Structure?

· Mutualism

· Competitive Interactions

· Predator–Prey Interactions

· Evolutionary Arms Races

· Parasites and Parasitoids

· How Communities Change

· Biogeographic Patterns in Community Structure

46: Ecosystems

· Too Much of a Good Thing

· The Nature of Ecosystems

· The Nature of Food Webs

· Measuring Ecosystem Properties

· Biogeochemical Cycles

· The Water Cycle

· The Carbon Cycle

· Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

· Nitrogen Cycle

· The Phosphorus Cycle

47: The Biosphere

· Going with the Flow

· Global Air Circulation Patterns

· Oceans, Landforms, and Climate

· The El Niño Southern Oscillation

· Biomes

· Deserts

· Grasslands and Dry Shrublands

· Broadleaf Forests

· Coniferous Forests

· Tundra

· Freshwater Ecosystems

· Coastal Ecosystems

· Coral Reefs

· The Open Ocean

48: Human Impacts on the Biosphere

· Life in the Anthropocene

· The Extinction Crisis

· Harmful Land Use Practices

· Effects of Pollutants

· Ozone Depletion and Pollution

· Effects of Global Climate Change

· Conservation Biology

· Reducing Negative Impacts

Additional Information

Course Length 4 Months
Prerequisites No
Course Materials No
Course Start Date

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Courses with a teacher have designated start dates throughout Fall, Spring, and Summer. Full-year courses last 10 months and semester courses last 4 months. Courses are taught by teachers in K12 International Academy. For details on start dates, click here.

Teacher Assisted Yes, this course is taught by a K12 International Academy teacher. If you are looking for a teacher-supported option with additional flexibility and year-round start dates, click here to learn about the Keystone School, another K12 online private schooling option.
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  • CPU: 1.8 GHz or faster processor (or equivalent)

  • RAM: 1GB of RAM

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  • At this time our users are encouraged not to upgrade to Windows 10 or Edge (the new browser)


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  • CPU: PowerPC G4 1 GHz or faster processor; Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz or faster processor

  • RAM: 1GB of RAM

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