How did I get into AP Biology?
Before I tell you my first thoughts and impressions on the course, I want to give you my story on how I came to the idea of challenging myself to take this course.
I always loved biology, even more than English perhaps, and I was always interested in the study of life because it answered my outlying questions on what makes it up and what drives it. Even at age 6 (and a half) I was always in touch with the biological aspect of life for instance, I still remember vividly asking my mother how she felt when I was just a fetus during gestation (the process of pregnancy) and she was shocked on a whole different level. I mean how do you tell your 6-year-old how it felt to have a human embryo growing inside of you? So yes, at that moment it was clear that I was indeed a mini biologist in the making. About 2 years later on my 8th birthday, my uncle who was at the time a biology student specializing in biochemistry came up to me and sat me down on his lap. He then, like many other older relatives who just keep on instilling wisdom to kids who yet to wait to understand, told me that in the next 8 years of your life I’ll be next in line to take the road less traveled by to study biology. He proceeded to show me his first scientific and he said, “This was easier to write than a history paper.” I was then interested with glee and that I wanted to be just like him, and guess what? 8 years later, I turned 16 and I got into AP biology. It’s quite outstanding really how surreal this is, as if one day you’re sitting on your uncle’s lap listening to advice that’s well suited later on in life and then it actually happens. Recently on my 16th birthday, he came back, at this point he is now working in one of the best micro laboratories in the nation and is helping to develop new antibiotics, and he gave me a gift. At first I thought it was a Macbook air, which it wasn’t (my mother is the one who got me that), instead it was a textbook with his name on it. When I opened it, laid the dedication page with my name on it and a long abstract page. At first I was puzzled but then it clicked in, the first page was actually his first scientific paper that he showed me 8 years ago and somehow it blossomed into a book. He then continued to tell me that he saw the potential in me at a young age and that growth will take me to it and the same goes for him. I was able to realize now that where there is potential there is a possibility of growth and that I fell in love with the possibility of potential& growth and I applied that feeling when I took AP biology. Remember, potential and growth.
Now with that out-of-the-way, let’s get more specific on how I decided to take AP biology. So after the events with the my uncle, I thought that I wasn’t getting the same opportunity as my high achieving counterparts from other schools, so I took AP biology online and I’m currently teaching myself the curriculum with the help of educational resources. I can assure you that it’s not that scary and that it’s actually very amusing how I can learn from just taking notes, watching lectures and doing assignments from the comfort of my room. I feel like that I’m getting a more pleasant experience from taking it online because, I can do it on my own time therefore, I’m working at my own pace without worrying about deadlines and that I can comfortably do it without pressure from my peers.
What’s the description of the course?
The course itself is based upon these 4 big ideas that are centred on all of the topics, which I find is a very good way to classify biology of all types. The reason why these 4 big ideas exist is to help with the thorough understanding of each lesson; each lesson learned always goes back to these ideas.
The following are the main 4 big ideas associated with AP Biology:
- The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
- Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.
- Living systems store, retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes.
Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.
These 4 are crucial to when learning new topics and that you must be able to make connections between these 4 and what you’re learning. At first I had trouble trying to convey what is being said in each lesson but, when I started to make connections like a real scientist would, it made it fairly easy and simple. I would say that memorizing facts and scientific information is not enough to pass this course therefore, when you finish a section or a lesson please do go back to these 4 main ideas to solidify your understanding and to make connections throughout your time studying biology.
These topics change over time but the following are the most common explored topics:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Cell functions and organelles
- Developmental biology
- Molecular biology
- Origin of life
- Population biology
- Molecular genetics
- Cell Communication
- Cell Division
The topic makeup:
- Molecules and Cells, 25%
- Heredity and Evolution, 25%
- Organisms and Populations, 50%
I know that this looks daunting but, I assure you that the learning experience is going to be a memorable one. I finished most of cell functions and organelles and genetics. After completing each lesson, I felt this great feeling of accomplishment which many AP students experience and that is one of the many reasons why taking AP is preparing you for college.
My final thoughts
I’m really enjoying this course because, it’s everything that I imagined and that I’m pushing myself to do things that I never knew could be accomplishable. The best quality that you can learn from this course is putting high expectations of yourself. When you have these expectations you can do many wonderful things. Below is a video from an AP biology teacher who shares her thoughts on how high expectations drives her students’ success.