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Scientific Notation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Use Study.com's video lesson on scientific notation to practice the rules required to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers that are written in scientific notation. End the lesson with a game that allows students to practice their skills.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • understand why scientific notation is important
  • convert numbers into scientific notation
  • add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers in scientific notation

Length

1 to 1.5 hours, depending on sample problems and game length

Materials

  • Mini whiteboards and dry erase markers (one for each student)

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.EE.A.4

Perform operations with numbers expressed in scientific notation, including problems where both decimal and scientific notation are used. Use scientific notation and choose units of appropriate size for measurements of very large or very small quantities (e.g., use millimeters per year for seafloor spreading). Interpret scientific notation that has been generated by technology.

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.EE.A.1

Write and evaluate numerical expressions involving whole-number exponents.

Instructions

  • Start the lesson by writing these facts on the board:
    • Pluto's average distance from our sun is approximately 3,670,000,000 miles.
    • The radius of a hydrogen atom is 0.000000000053 meters.
  • Ask students what kinds of problems a scientist might encounter that involve numbers this long?
    • Discuss how large numbers take a lot of time to write out and how longer numbers lead to more errors.
  • Have students take out a piece of notebook paper and fold/unfold it so they have five rectangular boxes.
  • Play the study.com video lesson Scientific Notation: Practice Problems.
  • Pause the video at 2:02.
  • In the first box, have students write the title 'Rules for Writing.' Discuss signifcands and exponents, guiding students through note-taking as you review.
    • Using mini whiteboards, have students complete the following problems. Walk around the room and check for understanding.
      • Convert 500,000 to scientific notation (answer is 5 x 10^5)
      • Convert 0.005 to scientific notation (answer is 5 x 10^-3)
  • Continue the video, pausing at 2:17.
  • In the next box, have students write the title 'Adding.' Discuss the rules for adding, guiding students through note-taking.
    • Next give students a problem to complete on their whiteboards, such as 3 x 10^6 + 2 x 10^6, and give them time to complete it (answer is 5 x 10^6)
  • In the next box have students write the title: 'Subtracting.' Discuss the rules for subtracting, guiding students through note-taking as you review.
    • Give students a sample problem to complete on their whiteboards, such as 9 x 10^3 - 6 x 10^3, and time to solve (answer is 3 x 10^3). Walk around to check for understanding.
  • Continue the video, stopping at 2:25.
  • In the next box, have students write the title 'Multiplication.' Discuss the rules for multiplication, guiding students through note-taking as you review.
    • Give students a sample problem to complete on their whiteboards, such as (1 x 10^5)(4 x 10^3), and give time to solve (answer is: 4 x 10^8). Walk around to check for understanding.
  • In the next box, have students write the title 'Division.' Discuss the rules for division, guiding students through note-taking as you review.
    • Give students a sample problem to complete on their whiteboards, such as (8 x 10^4) divided by (4 x 10^2), and give them time to solve (answer is 2 x 10^2).

Activity

  • Place students into groups of 2-3. Each student needs a whiteboard. Tell students they are going to play a game in teams. Each team starts with 50 points. Before they hear the problem, they must wager some of their points. They can wager up to half of their points. Have each group tell you how much they wager and then start the video.
  • Pause at 3:07. Tell students that the problem is asking (1 x 10^14) (9 x 10^-1). Give students a few minutes to solve in teams, writing their answers on the whiteboards. Walk around and see how each team did. If they got it correct, add the points they wagered. If incorrect, subtract the points they wagered.
  • Now, start the video so they can see how to solve the problem.
  • Have students wager points again and start the video for problem 2, pausing at 4:25. Give students a few minutes to solve, having them write the correct answer on their whiteboards. Walk around and see how each team did (again, adding points if the answer is correct and subtracting if incorrect).
  • Now, start the video so they can see how to solve.
  • You can continue on with the game, or have students watch the lesson summary.

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