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Honors Biology

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Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math score required

Prerequisites: Completion of Algebra I

Course Format: Individually paced

Course Length: Typically 6 months

Recommended School Credit: One academic year

Course Code: HBI

Course Description


CTY Online Programs' individually paced high school science courses help students learn complex scientific concepts using a dynamic online environment that includes graphics, animations, video, and audio-narration. Students review and apply new knowledge through interactive activities. Unit tests provide feedback and help students prepare for comprehensive midterm and final exams. The laboratory component includes both hands-on experiments using common household materials and virtual exercises. Students work with expert science educators. This course does not have any synchronous class meetings, but students may schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor to answer questions or concerns.

Honors Biology covers topics typically covered in a high school biology course and prepares students for Advanced Placement Biology. Students study the structures, functions, and processes of living organisms and their interactions with the environment. Major themes include cell structure and specialization, energy and chemistry of life, genetics and evolution, diversity of life, plant systems, and ecology. Students learn complex biological concepts through interactive web-based lectures and applications, and knowledge is assessed through quizzes, tests, and projects.

Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in this course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations.

Proctor Requirements

Proctor Requirements

A proctor is required for this course if the student’s goal is to obtain a grade. Please review Proctor Requirements for more details.

Materials Needed

A lab kit is required for this course: Honors Biology Lab Kit
Additional supplies are required for the lab assignments: Honors Biology Materials List

Purchase of a microscope is strongly encouraged to participate in the labs for this course.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

An Introduction to Biology


signs of life
themes in biology
energy, systems and interactions
unity within diversity
inductive and deductive reasoning
scientific methodology
from hypothesis to theory

Cell Structure and Specialization

Inside the Cell

cellular organization
historical perspectives
chemical constituents
prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
comparisons between plant and animal cells
plasma membrane
nuclear membrane
nuclear pores
ribosomal RNA
endoplasmic reticulum
Golgi complex
vesicular transport

Plasma Membrane and Cellular Transport

structure of the plasma membrane, the fluid-mosaic model
Brownian motion
concentration gradient
dynamic equilibrium
diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide
osmotic pressure
isotonic, hypotonic, and hypertonic solutions
passive transport
facilitated diffusion
active transport
endocytosis, including receptor-mediated endocytosis


the prokaryotic cell
the eukaryotic cell
genetic material within a cell
prokaryotic cell division
eukaryotic cell division
eukaryotic cell cycle
M phase (Mitosis)
metaphase plate


the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell
genetic material within a eukaryotic cell including chromosomes, karyotype, homologous chromosomes, sex chromosomes, and autosomes
eukaryotic cell division
asexual versus sexual reproduction
sexual reproduction including fertilization, zygote, meiosis, diploid (2n), and haploid (n)
Meiosis I
Meiosis II

Blood and Immunity

functions of blood
the components of blood, plasma, plasma proteins, red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes)
blood clotting against infection by pathogens
first, second, and third lines of defense
immune system defects

Energy and Chemistry of Life


atoms, protons, neutrons, and electrons
an introduction to the periodic table
elements, important elements in biology, trace elements
atomic number
atomic structure
electron energy levels
molecules and compounds
valence electrons
covalent bonds
polar and non-polar covalent bonds
ionic bonds
hydrogen bonds
chemical and structural formulae
water and properties of water
cohesion and adhesion
organic compounds including carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids

Cellular Respiration

energy - structure of ATP and ADP
oxidation-reduction reactions
description of anaerobic and aerobic respiration
the glycolytic chemical pathway
the role of glucose and enzymes


roles of carbon dioxide, water, oxygen, glucose, and pigments including chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and the carotenoids
the chemical reaction for photosynthesis
light reactions
Photosystems I and II
electron transport chains the generation of ATP and NADPH
dark reactions
the Calvin Cycle


enzyme production
chemical reactions
catalyst substrates
energy of activation
enzyme nomenclature
enzyme structure
lock-and-key model
induced-fit model
enzyme activity
effects of enzyme on substrate
reusable characteristic of enzymes
factors affecting enzyme activity
enzyme concentration
substrate concentration
noncompetitive enzyme inhibition
competitive enzyme inhibition
allosteric activation

Genetics and Evolution


an introduction to DNA
genes, traits and heredity
the discovery of nucleic acid and chromosomes
chromosomal theory of inheritance
DNA chemical composition
purine, pyrimidine, and nucleotide structure
experiments leading to the discovery of DNA as hereditary material
Griffith's pneumococcus experiment
Avery, MacLeod, & McCarty cell extract experiments
Chargaff's Rules
Hershey & Chase bacteriophage experiment
x-ray diffraction studies of DNA structure
Watson & Crick, identification of double helix
Messelson & Stahl experiments
DNA replication and repair processes
From DNA to Protein
one gene-one enzyme hypothesis
Sir Archibald Garrod
George Beadle and Edward Tatum
one gene-one polypeptide hypothesis
the structure of DNA
the structure of RNA

Mendel’s Principles of Heredity

Mendel's biography
Mendel's pure-breeding pea plant
self-fertilizing pea plants
the seven famous traits of mendel's pea plants
experiment on the inheritance of seed color
modern terms in genetics
heredity based in probabilities
Mendel's Law of Segregation
the punnett square
Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment

Investigating Heredity

Gregor Mendel
principles of heredity
chromosomal inheritance
studies by Walter Sutton and Thomas Morgan
patterns of heredity
human heredity and genetic disorders
gene therapy

Genetic Engineering

DNA composition and its function as genetic material
the use of natural variation in genes for selective breeding
changes in genes through mutation
the experimental process of genetic engineering
examples of modern genetic engineering in microbes plants, and animals
applications of genetic engineering in medicine and gene therapy


Earth's prehistoric life
early views on evolution
Charles Darwin
natural selection
micro evolution
evolutionary fitness
fossil finds
macro evolution
mass extinctions

Diversity of Life

Classification of Living Things

history of classification
criteria for classification
the five kingdom classification scheme
six-plus classification schemes
three domain classification scheme
taxonomic keys
the traditional school of systematics, cladistics, and phenetics

Viruses and Bacteria


size, shape and structure
attachment to host cell
entry into host cell
reproduction – lytic cycle, lysogenic cycle
retrovirus reproduction and transmission
viral diseases
viral vaccines


size, shape, and structure
classification by respiration
classification by mode of nutrition
genetic exchange methods
types of bacteria, Archaebacteria, Eubacteria
bacterial diseases and transmission
disease prevention
Sir Alexander Fleming
biological and economic importance of bacteria


evolution of protists
plant-like protists
animal-like protists
fungi-like protists
diseases caused by protists


similarities between fungi and plants
fungal habitats and sizes
typical structures
evolution of the fungi
asexual and sexual reproduction
fungal diseases
symbiosis between fungi and plants

Non-Flowering Plants

characteristics of plants
classification of the non-flowering plants
plant adaptations
the three groups of non-flowering plants, the bryophytes, the seedless vascular plants, and the seed-bearing vascular plants (gymnosperms)
lifecycle of non-flowering plants


origins of multicellular organisms
distinctive animal characteristics
binomial classification of animals
embryonic development and the importance of ectoderm, endoderm, mesoderm, and the coelom
overview of invertebrate phyla: Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Rotifera, Mollusca, Annelida, Arthropoda, Echinodermata, and the invertebrate Chordates


a survey of the animal kingdom
animal versus plant cell structure
binomial nomenclature
Linnaean classification
chordate characteristics and classification
vertebrate characteristics and classification
vertebrate evolution
vertebrate form and function
characteristics and adaptations of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals

Plant Systems

The Leaf

the importance of the leaf
external appearance
simple vs. compound leaves
patterns of leaf arrangement
veins in leaves
conducting tissue
tissue and cell of leaves including epidermis, mesophyll and bundle sheath
stoma structure and function
human uses of leaves

Roots and Stems

functions of the root
primary and secondary roots
tap root system
fibrous root system
adventitious root system
root cap
growth zones
root tissues
functions of the stem
types of stems
structure and tissues of herbaceous monocot
herbaceous dicot
woody dicot stems

Flowering Plants

plant classification
structure and function of a flower
modes of pollination
sexual reproduction versus asexual reproduction
lifecycle of an angiosperm
fruit production
differences between fruits and vegetables
the importance of fruits and vegetables to humans and other animals



biotic and abiotic symbiosis
ecological succession
the biosphere (Biodome) project in Arizona

Food Chains and Webs

energy transfer through living things
producers, consumers and decomposers
photosynthesis and chemosynthesis in autotrophs
feeding styles of heterotrophs
community trophic structure
food chains
food webs
ecological pyramids
energy availability in a community
biological magnification
human interactions with food chains and webs


solar energy
patterns of air and ocean circulation
geographical influences on climate
the physical characteristics of each biome
plant and animal adaptations
aquatic ecosystems
roles of humans in altering biomes

Population Ecology

defining a population
characteristics of populations
types of populations
growth rate of populations
strategies of reproduction
human population growth
limiting factors
age structure of populations
interactions between populations including endangered species

Human Impact on The Environment

human history and the environment
population growth
environmental compartments
ozone depletion
global warming
acid deposition
water pollution
pollution control
habitat destruction
natural resource exploitation
conservation biology

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Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.



CTY Online Programs Science - Comments and Feedback from Students, Parents, and Teachers



"The classes were wonderful, effective, and creative. The labs were enjoyable and the best technology I have ever used in virtual labs. They were challenging, but just the right amount. The course materials were the perfect combination to learn biology in a new and exciting manner. The course had the capacity to interest anyone, whether they have an interest in the subject or not."

"My instructor was very prompt in responding to my questions and answered them thoroughly. At times, the instructor provided inspiring remarks to keep going, in spite of the difficult levels of several assignments. Overall, I'm fully satisfied with this course, and wish to do many more at CTY."

"The online interface was engaging with content clearly and professionally presented. More importantly, the course structure facilitated organized note-taking and gave us opportunity to cultivate study skills, essential as content quantity burgeons. The instructor was a good fit, too."