Scientific Notation - What To Do with Big and Small Numbers

Contributor: Briana Pincherri. Lesson ID: 11260

How would you write out the number "bazillion"? If there were such a number, it would need lots of zeros! Learn how to write out great big and little tiny numbers through a video and online practice!

categories

Middle School

subject
Math
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

What do you do with SUPER long numbers? Do you allow yourself to get a hand cramp and just write the whole thing? If you answered "Yes," I have got some wonderful news for you! You can write very long numbers in a much shorter form using something called "scientific notation." Completing this lesson will show you just that!

Grab a piece of paper and pencil.

Take a minute and write the LONGEST number you can think of (okay, maybe not the longest, because that could keep going and going, but jot down at least 15 digits). Got it? Okay, great. Now, would you like to re-write that number over and over and over again? No way! Not only would you get a hand cramp, you'd be so tired of writing numbers, you'd never want to do math again.

What if I asked you to multiply, or divide, or even just add that 15-digit number? Well, guess what? Most people aren't comfortable with numbers that big, and most calculators can't even hold a number that long! So, what should you do?

It just so happens that something called "scientific notation" was created for really large (long!) numbers and really small (long decimal!) numbers. Let's take a look.

Start by watching this video by Tyler Dewitt called Scientific Notation: Introduction:

 

Numbers can take different forms.

Standard form: That is the number itself, fully expanded (ex. 1,200,000,000).

Scientific Notation: That is shown as a decimal number (with just 1 digit in front of the decimal place) times 10 to some power (ex. 1.2 x 109), as seen in the video.

While those examples from the video are fresh in your mind, let's move on to some practice in the Got It? section.

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