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BIOL 240

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Spring 2014
Biology 240W: Function and Development of Organisms

Lectures:  MWF 10:10-11:00 a.m. 100 Thomas Building

Biology 240W is a four-credit course with lecture and laboratory/recitation components.  The objective of this course is to provide an understanding of the major unifying principles as they apply to the study of the function and development of organisms.  In laboratory/recitation, you will practice the scientific method through experimental laboratory exercises and become proficient in the interpretation and presentation of your results through written and oral reports.



Dr. Michael Axtell (Jan. 13th - Mar. 7th)

260 North Frear (put Bio 240W in the subject line)

Office hours:  Tu & Th 1:00-4:00 p.m.


Dr. John Waters (Mar. 17th – May 2nd)

413 Mueller Laboratory (put Bio240W in the subject line)

Office hours: TBA 

Course Coordinator:  Dr. Kimberlyn Nelson, 111C Mueller Lab, 863-6360, Office Hours: M 9-10 am.  For course logistics questions, email Dr. Nelson, (Put “Bio240Wday” in the subject line).  For questions about course content, see an instructor during office hours.

Laboratory Coordinator:  Dianne Burpee,, Room 115 Mueller Lab, 865-1714.  Office Hours: By appointment.


Required Course Materials:

Textbook and Mastering Biology access:  Reece, Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, Jackson.  2011. Campbell Biology, 9th edition, Pearson/Benjamin Cummings.  Readings should be completed before the relevant lectures. There are three options for these required materials. 

(1) If you took Biol110 in the fall and purchased the textbook (etext or printed) and a mastering biology access code, you will use your same code to enter the Mastering Biology class for Bio240W.  Please visit and follow the directions for entering the new Mastering Biology course.

(2) You can purchase the etext version of Campbell Biology that includes the PSU access code for Mastering Biology.  

(3) You can purchase just the PSU access code for Mastering Biology and obtain a used copy of the textbook from another source.

After you have your PSU access code for Mastering Biology, you will need to go on-line at and join the class MBAXTELLSP2014.  You must use your PSU Access Account ID, i.e. kxn4 (NOT your student ID number) as your student ID for Mastering Biology.   Failure to properly format your Mastering Biology account will result in the loss of any points associated with an incorrect ID.  Only points earned under your access account ID will be credited.

Please note that MasteringBiology performs the best if you are using Firefox as your browser.  It performs poorly with Chrome and failure to use an appropriate browser will result in lost points.

New York Times:  You will need access to the New York Times.  The NYTimes is available for free to student via newspaper dispensers around campus (swipe your student ID).  You can also sign-up for free digital access (  This page provides links for sign-up, phone apps, and FAQs.  We will primarily focus on the Tuesday Science section but articles from other issues of the NYTimes may also be appropriate.

Digital Lab Access Coupon: Purchase this coupon at one of the cash registers at the Penn State Bookstore in the HUB-Robeson Center.  This coupon is non-refundable.  During your first lab you need to submit this coupon to your TA with your printed name, signed name and section number on it.  Laboratory materials will be accessed through your lab section in ANGEL. Note well:  ANGEL is down for maintenance between 4 -6 a.m. daily – during that time you cannot access any materials or submit assignments on ANGEL.

Laboratory Fee:  This course has a laboratory fee for consumables used during lab.  This fee will be assessed to your Bursar’s account after the regular add/drop period.  There are no refunds after the regular drop period.  

Active PSU Access Account:  To access both lab and lecture materials via ANGEL it is essential that you have an active Penn State Access Account and access to a computer.  If you do not have your own computer, you can use one of the many computer labs located on campus.  Your PSU Access Account ID is also necessary to receive credit for on-line homework.

Lab notebook:  You will need a graph/quad ruled composition book to use for laboratory.  Available at the Penn State Bookstore and local office supply stores.  If you have your lab notebook from the fall semester (Biol110 or Biol230W) and you have about half the pages unfilled, you may use that notebook for this semester.


Course Format:

Lectures: Lectures will begin at 10:10 a.m.  The instructor will assume that you have some working knowledge of the material before coming to class (i.e., from textbook readings and on-line homework).  In many cases the readings are more comprehensive than the material covered in the lecture but the additional information will help you to more fully understand the concepts that we cover in class.  All topics discussed in class, on-line homework and/or posted on ANGEL, will be considered testable material.  Please do not ask the Instructors what material you “need to know”.  Unless told otherwise, you need to know it all.  Regular class attendance is VERY IMPORTANT!

This course stresses concepts and it is critical that you understand and synthesize the material; memorization alone will not be sufficient.  Bring your questions to class and to your Instructor’s office hours (or make an appointment).  

Lecture Learning Assistants:  LAs will be available during class for assistance with in-class activities.  They will also hold office hours (TBA) for help with course content and will read and grade your weekly scientific reading assignments.



Laboratory Policies:

This part of the course begins the week of January 13th in the room on your course schedule.  

Attendance in laboratories is mandatory. The only excuses that allow you to receive an official makeup, which must be completed within one week of an absence, are described under “Exams” (below).  You may miss one lab session without an excuse and not receive negative attendance points (see complete details on attendance and makeup policies found in the lab syllabus posted on ANGEL and provided by your TA on the first day of your own scheduled lab section).  If you miss any lab session, you still are responsible for the material covered and for any assignment(s) given during that missed class, and especially for any assignments that may have been due at the time of your missed class even if you were not in attendance.  

o You MUST email your TA within 24 hours (preferably before) of your missed section about an absence from lab.  

o You should make every effort to attend another lab during the same week

The schedule of lab times and rooms is posted on ANGEL in the lecture folder and it is your responsibility to find a time or times that work for you.  You must ask the TA of the section if you can attend, and if the section is full you will need to try another section.

o If you cannot make up your lab during the same week, you must schedule an individual appointment with your TA

o If you miss more than three lab meetings, you must speak with the course coordinator, Dr. Nelson, immediately after the 3rd missed session.  You will not be permitted to continually reschedule your missed lab meetings.  You need to attend the section that you have registered for on a regular basis or you will have points deducted from your final lab score.

Most written assignments will be electronically submitted through a drop box in ANGEL and must be submitted before the beginning of your scheduled lab session on the date that the assignment is due to be considered on time.  Further details about submitting assignments, grading policies and making up exercises for which you have a legitimate excuse will be found in the lab syllabus, the lab manual introduction file and discussed by your TA during the first meeting of your section the week of January 13th.  Each student is responsible for reading and understanding all laboratory policies found in the lab syllabus and in the introduction file of the lab manual posted in ANGEL.

Note Well:  If you have an evening exam in another course, you must make arrangements to take the conflict exam at another time because you will not be excused from a lab for the purposes of taking an evening exam in another course. 

Teaching Assistants:  The TAs are available to help you with laboratory material.  Their office hours are held in the TA Office in 613 Mueller Lab.  TA office hours will be posted near the door and on the course web page in ANGEL.





You will be responsible for understanding all material presented during lecture and/or posted on the course website.  During the time that classes are in session, you will have three lecture exams during the semester (100 pts. each). During the final exam period you will be given a final exam that consists of two parts:  part one will consist of questions based on the new material (since the third exam, 100 pts.) and part two will be comprehensive with questions from the entire course content (200 pts.).  The first three lecture exams will be taken in the e-Testing center in Pollock Building (  Please watch the video on that web page to know what to expect when you take your exam.  You must have your student ID with you to enter the testing facility.  You must schedule your exam in advance through the e-Testing website – there is a link on the page titled information for students (  It is your responsibility to schedule your exam and to be present at the testing facility well before your scheduled time (there may be a line).  If you begin the exam late, you will only have through the end of your scheduled time to complete it.  If you forget to sign up for a time, you will receive a zero for that exam.  Attendance at exams is mandatory; if you miss your scheduled time you must contact the course faculty within 24 hours of missing the exam and preferably before the exam starts. The following are the only legitimate excuses for missing an exam:


A University sponsored event (with note from sponsor) 

Religious holiday recognized by PSU 

Family emergencies (We ask for documentation.)

If you miss an exam for any of the above reasons and provide your verification of absence, you will be given the opportunity to take the exam at etesting within 7 days of the exam.  After that time, feedback to the class will be released and you will no longer be able to make up the exam.  Social functions (family reunions, weddings) are not excuses for missing an exam.  If you are unsure about your excuse, ask the course instructor before your absence.  As adults, it is your responsibility to provide reasonable verification; each situation is unique, and we can be flexible. If you have a family emergency, you may call the Assistance and Information Center 24 hour Family Emergency line at 814-863-2020.  They will take the information and notify your instructors of your absence.

Final Exam: The final exam will be given at the time and place set by the University in its final exam schedule which will be posted on eLion after February 17th. You must have your PSU student ID number in order to correctly complete the University Testing Services (UTS) scantron form.  Any test materials submitted without the proper ID number will have points deducted.  Do not make plans to leave the University before you know the final exam date– travel is not a legitimate reason for scheduling a conflict for the final exam (final exams run from 8 a.m. Monday, May 5th through 8:50 p.m. Friday, May 9th).  Locations for the exam will be announced in class and posted on the web (please do not phone or email for exam locations!).

Conflict Final Exam: The comprehensive final exam in the course is given during the official final exam period during the week of May 5th.  If you have three or more finals within consecutive exam periods, or on the same day, or a direct conflict, you must file for a conflict exam.  Students may file for conflict examinations through eLion between Monday, February 17th and Sunday, March 9th.  No conflict exam requests will be accepted after March 9th.  Individual conflict final exams will not be arranged.  Please do not make any travel plans until the final exam schedule is published on eLion.

On-line Homework via Mastering Biology:  There will be assigned tutorials, activities and reading questions within the on-line Mastering Biology course.  These assignments are selected to help you with difficult concepts but are in no way comprehensive of all the material presented within the chapter.  Each chapter will have an assignment due date and you must complete the assignment by the due date to receive full credit.  You can earn a maximum of 50 points for homework before Spring Break (plant content) and a maximum of 50 points for homework after Spring Break (animal content). You can earn a maximum of 100 points for all on-line homework.

Science Reading:  Each week you will submit a brief summary and commentary on a published article on a topic relevant to the course content.  The primary source for these articles will be the New York Times (the Tuesday science section will be a primary focus).  Dr. Axtell or Dr. Waters will assign the weekly article and then you will write a one-paragraph summary of the article and second paragraph with your comments and thoughts on the article.  These will be due each Friday before class and each assignment is worth 5 points.  You can earn a maximum of 65 points.

Use of e-mail: 

E-mail is an effective way to handle brief communications, but it is not an effective means to communicate concepts, major ideas, or to discuss a student's performance in the course.  Thus:

E-mail should be used by students to:

Point out any errors or oversights made by the Instructor during lectures.

Set up an appointment to talk with your Instructor if you cannot meet during regularly scheduled office hours.

Ask questions about lecture material that can be answered in one to two brief sentences.

E-mail should NOT be used by students to:

Ask for explanations about concepts, ideas, theories, laws, processes, or any other information that requires more than a short explanation.  Your Instructor can explain such things and answer major questions much better by talking with you in person.

Please Note: You MUST use your PSU account and an appropriate subject line to communicate with any course personnel.  You must include BIO240W in your subject line.   Failure to do so may result in your email being missed or filtered to the Junk email mailbox.

Academic Integrity/Academic Dishonesty: Professional behavior includes academic integrity.  Academic dishonesty is not limited to simply cheating on an exam or assignment.  The following is quoted directly from the "PSU Faculty Senate Policies for Students" regarding academic integrity and academic dishonesty:  “Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.  Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.” Lying to gain an advantage over other students is also an academic integrity violation.  

All University and Departmental policies regarding academic integrity/academic dishonesty apply to this course and the students enrolled in this course.  Refer to the following URL for further details on the academic integrity policies of the Eberly College of Science:  Each student in this course is expected to work entirely on her/his own while taking any exam, to complete assignments on her/his own effort without the assistance of others unless directed otherwise by the instructor or teaching assistant, and to abide by University and College policies on academic integrity and academic dishonesty.  If you have any questions about an assignment, please ask.  Academic dishonesty either in lab or lecture will be sanctioned and can result in assignment of “F” by the course instructors or "XF" by Judicial Affairs as the final grade for the student.  Students are responsible for ensuring that their work is consistent with Penn State's expectations about academic integrity.

You will be turning in most of your written assignments electronically, through ANGEL, to give us a date and time stamp; this helps to ensure that we treat all students equally in meeting the deadlines for their assignments.  Further details will be given in class and are found in the lab manual introduction file posted on ANGEL, along with the lab syllabus.



Earning a Final Grade Summary:

3 exams (100 pts each)                    300 pts

Final Exam  (300 pts)                        300 pts

On-line Homework (100 pts)             100 pts

Science Readings (65 pts)                  65 pts

Laboratory (235 pts)                         235 pts


Assignment of Final Grades:

It is your responsibility to keep track of your grades on lab assignments.  Exams and on-line homework (765 pts) count for 765 points of your grade; the remaining 235 points will come from laboratories. Earning less than 60% of the lab points will result in a final grade of an F in the course, regardless of your lecture score.  Final course grades will be assigned as follows (out of 1000 possible points*): 

A 930-1000 pts                 B   830-869 pts                    C 700-769 pts

A- 900-929 pts                  B- 800-829 pts                     D 600-699 pts

B+ 870-899 pts                 C+ 770-799 pts                    F less than 600 pts

Grade cutoffs may be adjusted to reflect the score distribution of the class.  Individual exams are NOT curved.  If the class mean is below 75% at the end of the semester, then grades will be assigned with the mean being a “C”.  A final grade will only be changed if a calculation or entry error has been made. *In extraordinary circumstances, a final grade may be based upon fewer than the total number of points available.

Disability:  Qualified students with disabilities are encouraged by Penn State to participate in the University's programs and activities.  Should you need any type of accommodation in any course because of a disability or have questions or concerns about the physical access, please contact the Office for Disability Services in 116 Boucke Building (863-1807).  Please contact the course coordinator, Dr. Nelson, if you need accommodations for a disability.

The Eberly College of Science Code of Mutual Respect and Cooperation" final.pdf embodies the values that we hope our faculty, staff, and students possess and will endorse to make The Eberly College of Science a place where every individual feels respected and valued, as well as challenged and rewarded.

Copyright Issues and Classroom Note-Taking Services:  Students who are enrolled in the course and who sell notes to either commercial note-taking services or to other students are advised to consult official University policies (for example, see Administrative Policy AD40 at: to learn about classroom notes, handouts, and other materials that are protected under the federal Copyright Act and under University policy.  Students should consult such University policies in order to avoid violating copyright laws and University policy.

The syllabus is subject to change.  The Instructors reserve the right to make changes to items on this syllabus, including changes to the lecture and lab schedules, and lecture and lab topics and assignments. 




Biology 240W Spring 2014 –Lecture Schedule

Chapter Readings


Lecture Title


13 Jan

Overview of Syllabus and Course Policies; Plant Nutrition


15 Jan

Plant Nutrition


17 Jan

Plant Nutrition


20 Jan

No Class—Martin Luther King Day


22 Jan

Plant Nutrition


24 Jan

Plant Structure and Growth


27 Jan

Plant Structure and Growth


29 Jan

Plant Structure and Growth


31 Jan

Plant Structure and Growth


3 Feb



Mon and Tues.

2/3 and 2/4

EXAM 1 (Jan 13-Jan 31) – e-Testing center.  The exam will be offered from 8 a.m – 11 p.m. on both days (except during scheduled class time on Wednesday) – you will receive an email from the testing center and you must sign up in advance for a specific exam time



5 Feb

Plant Transport


7 Feb

Plant Transport


10 Feb

Plant Transport


12 Feb

Plant Transport


14 Feb

Plant Reproduction


17 Feb

Plant Reproduction


19 Feb

Plant Reproduction


21 Feb

Plant Reproduction


24 Feb

Plant Responses


26 Feb

Plant Responses


28 Feb

Plant Responses


3 Mar




Mon. and Tues.

3/3 and 3/4

EXAM 2 (Feb 5 - Feb 28) – e-Testing center.  The exam will be offered from 8 a.m – 11 p.m. (except during scheduled class time) – you will receive an email from the testing center and you must sign up in advance for a specific exam time



5 Mar

Photosynthesis C4 and CAM metabolism  (Questions on this material will be included on the comprehensive final exam)


7 Mar

Photosynthesis C4 and CAM metabolism  (Questions on this material will be included on the comprehensive final exam)




**Spring Break (March 10-14)**



Lecture Title


17 Mar

Reproduction I


19 Mar

Reproduction II


21 Mar

Reproduction III


24 Mar

Animal Development I


26 Mar

Animal Development II


28 Mar

Animal Development III


31 Mar

Nervous System I


2 Apr

Nervous System II


4 Apr

Nervous System III


7 Apr



Mon. and Tues.

4/7 and 4/8

EXAM 3 (Mar 17 - Apr 4) – e-Testing center.  The exam will be offered from 8 a.m – 11 p.m. on both days (except during scheduled class time on Monday) – you will receive an email from the testing center and you must sign up in advance for a specific exam time



9 Apr

Motor System I


11 Apr

Motor System II


14 Apr

Circulation and Gas Exchange I


16 Apr

Circulation and Gas Exchange II


18 Apr

Circulation and Gas Exchange III


21 Apr

Nutrition I


23 Apr

Osmoregulation I


25 Apr

Osmoregulation II


28 Apr

Endocrine I


30 Apr

Endocrine II


2 May

Wrap up and Review


Week of May 5th

Comprehensive Final (lectures from April 9-May 2 and comprehensive including the photosynthesis lectures)– Time and Location will be posted on eLion after 17 Feb – do not make any travel plans before that date



The instructors reserve the right to make changes.  Please refer to the ANGEL webpage for updated information.