Introductory Meteorology

METEO 3 Syllabus

Introductory Meteorology

This is a sample syllabus, not associated with any particular semester course offering. If you are enrolled in METEO 3, please access the course syllabus link through Canvas to view your syllabus.

Please note that I divided the syllabus into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of this page, or simply by clicking on any of the links in the list below (to “jump” to a specific section). Without reservation, it is crucial that you read the entire page (and the material covered on the other pages of the course orientation). Together, they constitute an informal course "contract" between you and me.


Ben Reppert
Lecturer of Meteorology
Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
The Pennsylvania State University
Earth-Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16802

NOTE: All communication between instructor and students is reserved for the Canvas discussions (academic and technical issues) and Canvas e-mail (personal issues). For more details, please read Course Communication under Course Orientation.

Technical Assistance

If you're studying the course content in METEO 3 and encounter a lesson page with a broken link, or you have trouble viewing one of the animations or images, feel free to post a question to the appropriate "Classroom" discussion, located in each module in Canvas. I'll do my best to determine the cause of the problem and get it fixed.

However, if you're having trouble with Canvas (posting to a discussion, sending an email, taking a quiz, etc.), please use the Help button located in the left banner of the Canvas environment. You will notice that there are several options. First, I would try the Canvas Guides (they are an excellent resource). However, if you still are stuck, use the "Report a Problem for World Campus Courses" option to contact the Outreach Helpdesk. When describing your issue, try to be as specific as you possibly can. Include information such as:

  • Indicate the specific part of Canvas you're having trouble with, what you attempted to do when that failed, and the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen
  • The date and time when your problem occurred
  • Any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.)

The Outreach Helpdesk
(800) 252-3592, option #4
(814) 865-0047

Hours of Operation:

  • 08:00 A.M. till 12:00 Midnight ET, Monday through Friday
  • 10:00 A.M. till 7:00 P.M. ET, Saturday and Sunday

METEO 3: INTRODUCTORY METEOROLOGY (3 credits). Nontechnical treatment of fundamentals of modern meteorology and the effects of weather and climate. Prerequisites: None

METEO 3 is a General Education course offered by the Department of Meteorology. The course is designed specifically for distance learners seeking general science credit. METEO 3 will introduce to you a wide variety of basic atmospheric concepts so that you can become a better "weather consumer" (better understand and evaluate weather information) and gain a better understanding of "how the weather works."

METEO 3 uses online text with digital video, audio, simulation models, virtual field trips to online data resources, and interactive quizzes that provide instantaneous feedback. The course consists of 13 lessons, plus a course orientation week at the beginning of the semester. Lessons consist of an online reading assignment, which includes interactive exercises, links, animations, movies, and supplementary explanations of basic scientific principles.

Course Objectives

When you successfully complete this course, you will be prepared to:

  • describe the typical vertical variation of the basic variables used to quantify the atmospheric state, including temperature, pressure, humidity, winds, and natural and anthropogenic particles
  • describe the basic techniques used by meteorologists (and other scientists) to gather and interpret atmospheric data
  • discuss climate and climate change, together with the possible influences that humans have on diverse climate phenomena
  • analyze the forces that drive three-dimensional atmospheric motions
  • identify basic cloud types and discuss their formation mechanisms, together with the precipitation types and other materials that precipitation cleanses from the air
  • describe a variety of large-scale atmospheric phenomena, including the extratropical cyclone, the jet stream, and the general circulation
  • describe a variety of mesoscale and small-scale atmospheric phenomena, including tropical storms, severe thunderstorms, and tornadoes.

What I expect of you

On average, most successful students will likely spend roughly 8-10 hours each week completing assigned readings and other exercises, on par with what the university estimates for a typical 3-credit course. Your workload may be a bit more or less depending on your prior experience with computing and the Web, and with meteorology in particular.

I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet is still a novel learning environment, but in one sense it is no different from a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me, as well as with your fellow students. It's important to log into the course at least three times a week (on different days) in order to check your course e-mail, the discussions, and any course announcements that I've posted. Falling out of touch with course happenings for weeks at a time is a big way to jeopardize your chances of success in an online course.

Required Course Materials

You need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course lessons and other materials). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the World Campus

Assignments and Grading

Four components of assessment will comprise your final grade in METEO 3:

  • "Taking Your Temperature" Surveys ...5%
  • Lab Exercises ... 40%
  • Lesson Quizzes ... 30%
  • A Final Exam ... 25%

Detailed information about these requirements is covered in Course Assignments in Course Orientation.

The grading scale below indicates the general standards I use in METEO 3. Depending on the performance of the class, grades may be curved to students' advantage.

Grading Scale
Letter Grade Percentage
A 92-100%
A- 90-91%
B+ 88-89%
B 82-87%
B- 80-81%
C+ 78-79%
C 70-77%
D 60-69%
F 59% and lower

METEO 3 Course Schedule

See all assignment deadlines on the "Syllabus" page in Canvas or on your Canvas Calendar.

Course Policies

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the IT Service Desk (for World Campus students) or Penn State's IT Help Portal (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the procedures for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's Academic Integrity Training for Students

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.