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Summer Work

AP Biology: Summer Work 2012


Due dates
Task guidelines
Task Point Breakdown


6/16/12: Alright, the instructions are finished.

6/14/12: Everything in red below is from last year and subject to change. This year's summer work will appear in black. I will post updates to this site incrementally. When it's done, I'll say so in the News area. I expect to be done by 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, June 15). For every day I am later than that, I will extend the deadline by one day.

Due date

All tasks are due by Saturday, July 21, 2012, 11:59 p.m. PST.

Keep in mind that if you are submitting hard copies, the High School Office actually closes a little bit before 11:59 p.m. (and it might not even be open all day Friday), so plan ahead! If you send your work by mail, please direct it to the attention of Mr. Klein.

I will grade the following:
  • a hard copy of your work (hard copies will likely receive comments and corrections)
  • an electronic copy of your work provided (1) your first or last name is included in the file names and (2) no file is larger than 1 MB (electronic submissions might not receive comments or corrections)

If you need to make special arrangements for submitting your work (for instance, if you know you will be out of town), then make alternate arrangements with me at least two weeks before the deadline.

Task Guidelines

1. You will need to get a copy of The Language of God by Francis S. Collins.
  • Publisher: Free Press (Simon & Schuster)
  • ISBN-10: 1-4165-4274-4 (paperback)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-4274-2 (paperback)

2. Tasks related to the reading must be typed (you can do this directly in the provided Word document if you want). The worksheets may be completed by hand.

3. All answers should demonstrate an ability to organize one’s thoughts in an orderly way.

4. Be complete, but do not feel compelled to add flowery language or clever literary devices.

5. You will be graded on the basis of the quality of your input assessed by the relevance to the topic, clarity of understanding the issue and expressing your findings/opinion, exactness and fullness of responses, and language correctness.

6. You must make explicit connections to the reading using in-text citations like this: Collins (2007) argues that... or “God is most certainly not threatened by Science….” (Collins, 2007). Lack of references to the reading will result in lower grades – part of the point is to convince me that you have done the reading. Make sure to include a works cited page.

7. Do not plagiarize. The definition of plagiarism might be much broader than you realize. Check out the Purdue OWL page on Avoiding Plagiarism or this page on Types of Plagiarism. If ideas, phrases, sentences, or structures of passages are copied from the internet or from the book and pasted into any essay without giving proper credit for it, that is considered plagiarism. See the Student/Parent Handbook and AP Authorization Contract if you are curious about the consequences of plagiarism.


The information on this website can also be found in these documents (which are the same except for format):

1. Personal information. What are your main hobbies and interests? What are your current educational and career goals? Why are you taking this class? List all the classes you intend to take and extracurricular activities you intend to do this year. Your answers to these questions can be as long or as short as you want.

2. Scientific method. In AP Biology you will have to design and carry out your own experiments (I know, sounds hard, right?). Complete the following worksheet to review some scientific method concepts. (By the way, I did not write this worksheet, so please excuse the foul language.) If you are not sure about the meaning of some of the terms, I recommend reading the VCS Science Handbook on that topic: scientific methods.

3. Read The Language of God by Francis Collins. Really read it – take it in, contemplate the scientific, theological, and philosophical ideas it raises, do some introspection – don’t just skim it. Read the appendix, too. As you go, you can answer the questions that follow. It would be a good idea to read the questions before beginning the book. The numbers in [brackets] refer to the main chapter from which the questions are drawn. I will use the rubric below when evaluating your responses.

Criteria & Weighting
Writing competency
Exemplary spelling and grammar. Precise use of words with meaning clearly expressed.
Minor errors in grammar or format. Acceptable, effective use of words and expression.
Some errors in grammar or format occasionally obscure expression of thought. Imprecise use of words and expression.
Errors in grammar or format frequently obscure expression of thought.
Ineffective wording, sentence structure, and expression.
Thinking skills evident: knowledge, comprehension, application, synthesis, evaluation
Higher order thinking is clearly evident and presented in a clear logical flow. Insightful interpretation, application, explanation, and/or critique. Makes explicit connections to the reading.
Some higher order thinking is evident. Organization is logical. Links need strengthening. Most ideas are clearly interpreted, applied, explained and/or critiqued. Makes explicit connections to the reading.
Knowledge and comprehension are evident. Organization lacking. Interpretation, application, explanation and/or critique are minimal. Makes no explicit connections to the reading.
Basic knowledge level information is presented. Organization is not evident. Interpretation, application, explanation and/or critique are not evident. Makes no explicit connections to the reading.

  • Describe your views on the following topics before reading the book: Does God exist or not? Is evolution true or not? Are you not sure? Do science and faith necessarily conflict, or can they be integrated harmoniously? Why?

  • [1] Collins describes his path to faith in Chapter 1. To which parts of his story can you best relate? Explain.

  • [1] On page 23, Collins sums up the Moral Law, stating that “the concept of right and wrong appears to be universal among all members of the human species (though its application may result in wildly different outcomes).” Do you believe the Moral Law exists? What evidence from your own experience leads you to either confirm or doubt its existence?

  • [2] Collins presents four common concerns faced by people “considering a decision about belief in God”. With which of these four concerns can you most identify? Briefly summarize Collins’s response to that particular concern. Do you find his response satisfying? Why or why not?

  • [3] What is the Anthropic Principle (in your own words)? Collins presents three possible responses to the Anthropic Principle. Which would you choose? Why?

  • [4] “Faith that places God in the gaps of current understanding about the natural world may be headed for crisis if advances in science subsequently fill those gaps” (p. 93). What is Collins talking about here? Give two examples of God-in-the-gaps thinking. Collins also says that the answers he searches for are those that science alone cannot discover (p. 88). Does his personal search fall within his description of looking for God of the gaps? Why or why not? See page 204 for another reference to God-of-the-gaps thinking.

  • [4] Darwin seemed to believe that, rather than excluding the need for a Creator, his theory of evolution by natural selection provided insight into how the Creator created. What do you think about that?

  • [5] Outline the section of Chapter 5 beginning with the heading “Surprises from the First Reading of the Genome” to the end of the chapter. I would expect that to require at least a couple pages. The outline should include main ideas and supporting ideas, of course, but also important numbers and names of genes. Which of the lines of evidence presented here by Collins do you find most compelling for the common ancestry of living things? Does common ancestry argue against God?

  • [6] Collins quotes Saint Augustine’s warning (in 400 AD) that narrow interpretations of biblical passages with uncertain meaning may place faith at the risk of ridicule if future discoveries conflict with those narrow interpretations (pp. 156-157). In what situation today do you think that warning may have relevance?

  • [6] Discuss the following quote from Galileo: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use” (p. 158). What was Galileo trying to say? Do you think this statement is in tune with Collins’s views?

  • [7-10] Did the book fairly assess the different religious “options” of atheism, agnosticism, creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution (pp. 159-211)? Did reading these descriptions change your understanding of any of these views? Which option best explains your beliefs? If BioLogos does not explain your beliefs, why not?

Task Point Breakdown

Darwin's Black Box-related items (80 points)
Personal essay included (10 points)
Reference List (10 points)