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An Honest Review of Principles of Environmental Science from McGraw Hill

October 24th, 2023 | 5 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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As a high school environmental science teacher, you might be looking for new curriculum resources for your students. After all, it’s critical your students receive updated information on the latest developments in a changing industry.

If you’re considering an environmental science textbook for high school, chances are you’ve heard of Principles of Environmental Science from McGraw Hill. It’s one of the most popular traditional textbook options available.

But what exactly is included with this textbook? And is it the best possible solution for your students?

In this post, you’ll discover a full, honest review of the Principles of Environmental Science textbook published by McGraw Hill.

Specifically, you’ll find answers to these questions:

  • What is the Principles of Environmental Science textbook?
  • Who is this resource intended for?
  • What topics are covered?
  • How much does this resource cost?
  • Who should consider this curriculum?

After reading, you should have a better picture of what McGraw Hill offers for environmental science to decide if it’s the most appropriate choice for your classroom.

What Is the Principles of Environmental Science Textbook?

Principles of Environmental Science is a comprehensive textbook from noted educational publisher McGraw Hill. The book was written by William P. Cunningham and Mary Ann Cunningham and published in 2023.

The textbook has a companion lab manual for students to complete scientific projects. Although designed and written as a traditional textbook, Principles of Environmental Science and its lab manual are also available in an eBook format with additional digital resources. 

Who Is This Resource Intended For?

Unlike most environmental science curriculum resources intended for older students at the college level, one of the notable features of Principles of Environmental Science is that it is specifically designed for high school students. The material is tailored for use with students in grades 9-12 and provides extensive introductory-level knowledge of this career pathway.

When used as a digital textbook, Principles of Environmental Science is enriched with multimedia content with adaptive, personalized learning features to ensure all students can access and engage with the curriculum.

Given the features and content, McGraw Hill’s textbook is best used in an introductory-level high school environmental science course.

What Topics Are Covered by This Resource?

Principles of Environmental Science covers a broad range of topics relevant to understanding and sustainably managing the natural world and its resources. Students explore the diverse world of environmental science through exposure to real-world research, hands-on activities, and engineering practices.

The text is divided into four overarching units that help learners discover the different facets of environmental science:

  1. Studying the Environment
  2. Ecology and the Natural World
  3. Resources from Air, Water, and Land
  4. Sustainability and Environmental Policy

Below, you’ll find more information about the specific content within each unit.

Unit 1: Studying the Environment

The first unit of the Principles text provides a thorough introduction to the guiding practices of work as an environmental scientist. 

Within this unit, students investigate two main chapters:

  1. Nature of Science
  2. Understanding Our Environment

Through being exposed to the standards of scientific inquiry and the diverse natural environment with which humans engage, students are more prepared to learn about the world in greater detail.

Unit 2: Ecology and the Natural World

For the second unit of the course, the focus shifts to ecology, the branch of biology concerning the relationships organisms have with each other and the world around them.

Principles of Environmental Science spends four chapters teaching different aspects of ecology:

  1. Environmental Systems: Matter, Energy, and Life
  2. Evolution, Species Interactions, and Biological Communities
  3. Population Dynamics
  4. Biomes and Biodiversity

Once they’ve completed this unit, students should understand the significant aspects of ecology as it relates to environmental science as a whole.

Unit 3: Resources from Air, Water, and Land

The third and largest unit of Principles of Environmental Science considers the world’s various natural resources and the particular challenges facing their effective use and management.

In this unit, students learn about natural resources through seven chapters:

  1.  Climate
  2. Air Pollution
  3. Water: Resources and Pollution
  4. Land Use
  5. Food and Agriculture
  6. Environmental Geology and Earth Resources
  7. Energy

Through reading about challenges facing our air, water, and land, students will become familiar with the everyday work of environmental scientists in preserving each of our precious natural resources.

Unit 4: Sustainability and Environmental Policy

The final unit of this book discusses the importance of building a sustainable future for our natural world through adopting best practices and advocating for sound public policy.

Students learn about these principles through four chapters:

  1. Environmental Health and Toxicology
  2. Solid and Hazardous Waste
  3. Economics and Urbanization
  4. Environmental Policy and Sustainability

Through learning about the need for solid environmental policy, students will be better prepared for field work that promotes sound environmental stewardship.

How Much Does This Resource Cost?

McGraw Hill offers a wide variety of curriculum packaging options depending on your classroom needs. 

If you purchase the textbook digitally, you’ll find single- and multi-year subscriptions for teachers and students, along with bundle pricing. Bundle options include the book, lab and teacher manuals, and subscription to the digital eBook at one flat rate, depending on your subscription length. You can purchase subscriptions lasting up to eight years.

For example, a one-year teacher subscription for McGraw Hill’s Principles of Environmental Science textbook costs $212.20, while a one-year student subscription costs $82.24. Additional resources accompanying the book include the Student Lab Manual at $44.76 and the Teacher Manual at $57.64.

Who Should Consider This Curriculum?

McGraw Hill’s Principles of Environmental Science textbook is a good fit for teachers looking for a comprehensive, introductory curriculum to teach the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to explore environmental science.

As a recently published textbook, the content is current and effectively introduces students to the most pressing issues they’re likely to encounter when working in the field. 

However, as a text-based curriculum solution, this resource won’t be as engaging as other curriculum solutions. Students are primarily engaged through written content, and although the lab manual provides more hands-on opportunities, it’s up to the teacher to make the content genuinely engaging.

Likewise, educators don’t have access to the lesson plans and automatic grading features found in a digital curriculum, and unlike digital solutions, this resource will become outdated over time.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to teach environmental science but prefer a continually updated curriculum that engages students through multimedia lessons and blended learning, consider the Energy and Natural Resources Technology course from iCEV. 

This course examines interrelated environmental issues by applying science and technology to measure environmental impacts through field and laboratory experiences:

Discover the Energy & Natural Resources Technology Course