The APGov Applied Civics Project Requirement

Peter Paccone
10 min readAug 23, 2019


And why this is great news for APGov students

All future APGov students, are you aware that College Board, since 2018, has required its APGov teachers to provide their students with “an opportunity to engage in an applied civics project”?

The only requirements are (1) that your project be “tied to the AP U.S. Government and Politics course framework,” (2) that it “consist of a sustained and real-world activity,” and (3) that it “culminate with a presentation of findings.”

All in all, this is great news for you and that’s because the new APGov civics project requirement is a wonderful opportunity for you, the Snapchat generation, to get into politics, something that somehow, all of a sudden, has become “cool” to do.

It’s also a wonderful opportunity for you to do something that is bound to open the eyes of college admission officers everywhere and at the same time prove engaging.


On pages 133–137 of the APGOV Course and Exam Description, College Board lists and describes several project suggestions. Below, I’ve listed and described several more.

A Project That Seeks to Change the Rules Within Your School — Try to get your school and/or district administration to adopt a policy that would:

  • State that if a student scores a 5 on an AP Exam yet receives anything less than an A in the class, the grade will be changed to an A no matter the reason for the original class grade.
  • Require students to pass a civics test in order to graduate from your school.
  • Prohibit homework of any kind to be assigned five days before a national holiday and made due within five school days following the return to school from the national holiday.
  • Call for the development of a Seal of Civic Engagement, with this seal to be awarded to deserving graduating high school seniors.
  • Call for the development of a Peer Panel , a restorative justice project within the school to empower and build the capacity of the students at the school to be change agents themselves and within a youth justice context (aka Student Court.)
  • Call for the creation of a new 9th/10th grade class called State and Local Government, with Unit I of the class to be entitled “Youth and the Police.”
  • Call for the implementation of the AP Capstone Project.

A Project That Seeks to Change the Laws Within Your Community — Try to get a local government official to propose a law that would:

  • Limit (or prohibit) the use of hobby drones over city limits unless for a commercial filming purpose.
  • Lower the voting age for city elections to 16.
  • Create a parklet within the city limits.
  • Implement a free public wireless network system in one or more of your city’s parks.
  • Create an off-leash dog area within the city limits.
  • Establish an annual charity bike ride within the city limits.
  • Establish a bike lane of five miles or more within the city limits.

A Project That Seeks to Change the Laws Within Your State — Try to get state lawmakers to propose a law that would:

  • Encourage local school boards statewide to permit their student school board representative the ability to vote on five specific issues.
  • Prohibit the creation of any/all additional zoos, marine mammal parks, oceanariums, and animal theme parks.
  • Prohibit any K-12 public school located within the state from starting any earlier than 9:00 AM.

A Project That Seeks to Change the Laws of the Nation— Try to get your Congressional representative or your US senators to propose a bill that would:

  • Require all on-duty police officers to wear fully functioning body mounted cameras.
  • Prohibit the firing of a fully automatic assault weapon by anyone under the age of 18.
  • Prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from driving any motor vehicle that does not possess a fully functioning dash cam.
  • Allow the option of physician-assisted suicide for recipients of the death penalty/life sentence in prison.
  • Make any bicycle expenses tax-deductible, as long as the bike is used for commutes to/from work.

A Project That Seeks to Amend the U.S. Constitution — Try to get your representative or senator to propose an amendment to the Constitution that would:

  • Require the federal government to balance the budget on an annual basis.
  • Prohibit the burning or desecration of the American flag.
  • Limit the number of years a US Supreme Court Justice can serve.
  • Get rid of the Electoral College and thereby have the people, by popular vote, decide who shall be president.
  • Ban the use of race as a factor for the purpose of undergraduate and graduate college admissions.
  • Read as follows: “Those born in the United States from non-US citizen parents no longer gain immediate citizenship through birth in the United States unless the parents are citizens or have lived here for two years following the birth of their child.”
  • Make it easier to amend the constitution.
  • Repeal the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
  • Provide all children living in the US and who are citizens with a free and adequate college education.
  • Allow non-natural born citizens to become President if they have been a citizen for 20 years.
  • Declare English the official language of the United States.
  • Place limits on the number of years that a member of the US Senate or House of Representatives can serve in Congress.
  • Limit the president to one six-year term.


A Project That Seeks to Create a Lunchtime Open Forum. Lunchtime Open Forum is an opportunity for students, teachers, admins, staff, and at least a few (by-invitation-only) members of the general public to come together in the APGov teacher’s classroom once a month (in November, February, March, and April) to civilly discuss an issue of contemporary significance, with the issue discussed having been previously addressed by one of the KQED Above the Noise videos or explored on the ProCon website. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to bring a lunchtime open forum to your school.

A Project That Seeks to Establish a Voter Pre-Registration Drive — Click here to learn how two San Marino (CA) High School students recently created a voter preregistration drive using Google Slides.

A Project That Seeks to Produce a Tom Richey Knock-off Video — Click here to view a typical Tom Richey video — this one entitled Hobbes v. Locke. Then click here to view a Tom Richey knock-off video produced by a San Marino High School Honors US History student, with this video entitled The Rise of Boss Tweed. And yes, if you do try to create a Tom Richey knock-off video, Tom is more than willing to support and provide guidance. For topic suggestions, see below, with these suggestions all drawn from either the CED sections entitled Optional Readings Illustrative Examples — Not Required.

  • The Mayflower Compact (1620)
  • John Locke’s Second Treaties of Civil Government (1690)
  • Baron de Montesquieu’s ideas about separating powers in government found in The Spirit of the Laws (1748)
  • Letters from the Federal Farmer #1
  • Congressional response to the Obama administration’s executive actions on immigration
  • Devolution revolution of the 1980s
  • The federal response to Katrina and Sandy
  • National Minumum Drinking Age Act of 1984
  • State-level legalization of marijuana for personal use
  • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
  • The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 and State Marriage Laws
  • No Child Left Behind Act (2021)
  • Violence Against Women Act (1994) and US v. Morrison (2000)
  • Calendar assignments
  • Rider amendments
  • David Mayhew’s Is Congress the Broken Branch? (2009)
  • The appointments of Sandra Day O’Connor, Thurgood Marshall, and Sonia Sotamayor
  • The failed appointments of Robert Bork, John Tower, Abe Fortas, and Neil Gorsuch
  • Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address (1941)
  • President Reagan’s televised Address to the Nation on Federal Tax Reduction (1981)
  • Martin v. Hunter (1816)
  • Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing plan
  • The Federal Communication Commission
  • The Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883)
  • The Transportation Safety Administration TSA)
  • The EPA Superfund and the Reagan Administration
  • Legislative veto
  • West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)
  • Morse v. Frederik (2007)
  • District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)
  • The ban of polygamy and use of peyote in religious services
  • Riley v. California (2014)
  • Pierce v. Society (1925)
  • Hyde Amendment (1976)
  • Board of Education of Independent School District No 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls (2008)
  • Reed v. Reed (1971)
  • Milken v. Bradley (1974)
  • Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)
  • Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003
  • Parents Involved in Community Schools vs Seatle School District No. 1 (2007)
  • Alexis de Tocqueville’s “The Origin of the Anglo-Americans” and “Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans,” Chapters 2 and 3 of Democracy in America (1835)
  • Suzanne Mettler’s Confronting the Submerged State (2011)
  • George Will’s Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does (1983)
  • Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” Journal of Democracy (1995)
  • Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat 3.0 (2007)
  • Joseph Stiglitz’s Making Globalization Work (2006)
  • Matt Barreto and Gary Segura’s Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population Is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation (2014)
  • Cathy J. Cohen’s Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (2010)
  • Seymour Martin Lipset’s “Ideology, Politics, and Deviance,” Chapter 1 of American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (1996)
  • Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996
  • DREAM Act and debate over making English the official national language
  • Multiculturalism versus assimilation
  • Ideological positions on the inheritance tax
  • Ideological positions on the minimum wage
  • Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
  • Ideological positions on school vouchers litigated in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002)
  • Differing state requirements for marriage and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) ruling on same-sex marriage
  • Rob Paral’s “Stepping Up: The Impact of the Newest Immigrant, Asian, and Latino Voters,” Immigration Policy Center (2013)
  • “The Diversifying Electorate — Voting Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin in 2012 (and Other Recent Elections),” U.S. Census Bureau (May 2013)
  • David RePass’s “Issue Salience and Party Choice,” American Political Science Review (1971)
  • 2012 Democratic and Republican party platforms
  • 2020 Democratic and Republican party platforms
  • Mitt Romney’s ORCA and Barack Obama’s Project Narwhal in the 2012 campaign
  • blog by Nate Silver
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” The New Yorker (Oct. 4, 2010)

A Project That Seeks to Produce an Adam Norris Knock-off Video — Click here to view a typical Adam Norris video — this one entitled The Incorporation Doctrine. Then try to create one of your own. Adam, like Tom, is also willing to provide support and guidance.

A Project That Seeks to Produce a TED-Ed Lesson — At its core, a TED-Ed Lesson is a 3–5 minute animated video that focuses on topics ranging from chemistry to Shakespeare to origami. A lesson that focused on an APGov topic — How Do Executive Orders Work? Another lesson — How do US Supreme Court Justices Get Appointed? These two lessons were created by the folks at TED-Ed in collaboration with an educator, an insanely talented scriptwriter, and an equally talented animator. Students can however also create a TED-Ed Lesson, though it will be on their own (e.g., without the help of an insanely talented script writer, an equally talented animator). If you want to give it a go, first read TED-Ed as a Tool for Student Choice and Voice; then click here to view a TED-Ed Lesson produced by two San Marino High School Honors US students (this lesson also working for students on the APGov class), then consider creating a lesson of your own on one of the following topics:

  • The President and the Power to Pardon
  • Filibuster and Cloture
  • Pork-Barrel Legislation and Logrolling
  • Vetoes and Pocket Vetoes
  • The Court’s Power of Judicial Review
  • Issue Networks and “Iron Triangles”
  • What it Means to “Testify Before Congress”
  • The Sixteenth Amendment and Federal Income Tax
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail
  • Roe v. Wade
  • Gideon v. Wainwright
  • The “Free Rider” Problem
  • The Most Powerful Branch of Government
  • Checks and Balances When Government is Unified
  • How the Constitution Attempts to Limit Abuse of Power
  • Opinion Polls and Why Some are Better Than Others


Despite all the suggestions appearing above, you should not hesitate to feel open to the idea that your school, city, county, state, and/or our country might be better off if there were less government or less regulations. In other words, a civic project that seeks to limit and/or take away one or more rules established by the government in the past may also prove to be a civically healthy thing to advocate for.


Start working on your project as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the class term to begin or for the teacher to assign. Start the first chance you get: during the summer before entering your senior year, for example. Earlier even.

If you go that route, just imagine what you will have accomplished by the time you apply to college. Also imagine the impact your work will have, when described in your college application, on the college and university admission officers who are called upon to review your app.


If you need guidance and assistance, feel free to reach out to any one of the following:

  • Adam Norris, APGov and APUSH teacher, Maryvale (NY) High School,
  • Amanda Roraback, Past President, California Council for Social Studies and nationally acclaimed Wyzant Social Studies tutor,
  • Bob Fenster, APGov and US History teacher, Hillsborough (NJ) High School,
  • Lynnette Russo, APGov, Current Affairs/Law in Action and AVID teacher, Mount Vernon (VA) High School,
  • Matthew Beat, APGov, Economics, and APUSH teacher, Tonganoxie (KS) High School,
  • Megan Pankiewicz, AP Language & Composition teacher, Rockville (MD) High School,
  • Paul Hamel, APGov teacher, Marin (CA) Catholic High School,
  • Peter Paccone, APGov and AP US History teacher, San Marino (CA) High School,


  • Alicia Sexton, AP USGov and AP Comparative Gov teacher
    Naples (Italy) American High School,
  • Anthony Coggins, APGov and US History teacher, Holly (MI) High School,
  • Christina Smoorenburg, APGov, Woodlawn (LA) High School,
  • Jennifer Beaubouef, APGov teacher, Salmen (LA) High School,
  • Keri Pitcher, APGov and Criminal Justice and the Law teacher, Minnechaug Regional (MA) High School,
  • Heather Jones, APGov and AP Economics teacher, Criminal Justice
    Center (CA) High School,
  • Michael Stephens, APGov teacher, Quincy (IL) High School,
  • Susan Dugan, APGov teacher, Charters-Houston (PA) High School
  • Suzanne Ashmore, APGov and APUSH teacher, Charters-Houston (PA) High School,



Peter Paccone

High school APUSH teacher with much in-class and online teaching experience. Also a blogger, keynote speaker, editor, podcast host, and conference presenter.