close up on a young woman studying in front of an open laptop computer


Five AP Classes to Get You Through Quarantine

You don't need to be studying for an exam to learn something new and valuable from these lessons

How are you spending your quarantine time? If you're an AP student, it's probably by watching daily Online AP Classes and Review Sessions on YouTube. But if you look at social media, you'll know a lot of people are carving out time for self-improvement, be it through yoga, learning a language, or trying to become a better cook through online tutorials, Zoom seminars, or FaceTiming relatives. We're all remote learners in a pandemic, and the growing library of virtual AP classes is a great resource.

While the lessons are framed around preparing AP students for the 2020 exams in May, there's a lot for everyone to dig into. Here are five AP classes to get you started. Most are no longer than 40 minutes, and they'll help you make sense of the world, expand your horizons, and maybe even help you pick up a new skill.

AP Macroeconomics: Discussing Monetary Policy with Janet Yellen

Think economics is boring Wall Street stuff? Think again. Economic principles and forces are at work on our lives every day and impact everything, from how many people have jobs to how much cereal costs at your local grocery store. Macroeconomics—the study of growth, unemployment, and inflation—is especially important to understand as the world grapples with the beginnings of an economic downturn likely to be deeper than the Great Recession more than a decade ago. And there are few people better able to help you make sense of what this all means than Janet Yellen, an economist, professor, and former chair of the Federal Reserve. She joined AP Macroeconomics teachers Jennifer Raphaels (Ridge High School in Bernards Township, N.J.) and Matt Romano (Marist School in Atlanta, Ga.) for an illuminating and eminently understandable conversation about macroeconomics and our current economic situation. You will absolutely learn something from this AP master class.

AP Computer Science Principles: MakeCode – An IDE for Phones, Chromebooks, or Tablets

While we're all quarantined, many people like to annoyingly remind us that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while sheltering in place during the bubonic plague. But even if you don't have time during this pandemic to create one of the greatest literary works in history, you may be able to scrounge up enough time to pick up a new skill, like coding. There are a lot of programming languages out there, and this AP Computer Science Principles class introduces you to a newer one: MakeCode. Rather than dumping you in the deep end, Microsoft's open-source coding platform has steps and exercises (some utilizing Minecraft) that allow you to get comfortable with the language and build up to more complicated work. But rather than jump in cold, start here, with AP CSP teacher Julie Alano's (Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind.) introduction to MakeCode.

AP Environmental Science: 9.3-9.5 The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change

If you've been following social media during the pandemic, you've undoubtedly seen charts, graphics, and images of the environmental impact of everyone staying home: reduced air pollution, almost no car traffic, wildlife returning to national parks and even cities. Climate change was already one of the biggest, most contentious issues of our time, but some have begun wondering about coronavirus' impact on the environment—and what happens when we're all able to go outside again. That makes this the perfect time to learn more about climate change and the human and environmental factors behind it. AP Environmental Science teacher Amy Fassler (Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Wis.) lays out the facts in this class and lays a foundation for further study about the topic.

AP Art History 10.3 Interactions Within and Across Cultures in Contemporary Art

Contemporary art—from massive Earthworks projects that you can interact with to Jeff Koons' giant balloon animal sculptures in corporate lobbies to, creative performance art—can be a challenge, even for those of us who love art. This two-part class helps make sense of the work being made today by contextualizing it in art history and the cultural influences artists are working with and commenting on. It's a necessary primer for every art lover going through museum withdrawal during the pandemic. Part one, taught by AP Art History teacher Alison Napier (Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Va.), is above. Part two, taught by John Gunnin (Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif.), can be viewed by clicking here.

AP U.S. History: 9.5-9.6 Migration, Immigration, and Challenges in the '90s and '00s

Immigration and globalism are as relevant to our pandemic times as macroeconomics and climate change—and for different reasons in different nations. These are big issues with dense histories and long-reaching impacts, but understanding them is vital to making sense of the social, cultural, and political forces at work in the U.S. and around the world. In this class, AP U.S. History teacher Scott Horton (Williamsville South High School, Williamsville, N.Y.) gives you the foundational history to help untangle things. As a bonus, you'll also learn how to interpret a political cartoon—a valuable piece of media literacy you'll draw on every day (especially if you live on social media).