How Big? How Small?
Procedures for Teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep  Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps  Conducting the Lesson.
Tips  Managing Resources and Student Activities.
Prep
Student Prerequisites:
Proficiency with whole number and decimal calculations involving powers of ten is assumed. Some basic familiarity with exponential notation is also desirable.
Materials:
Materials for creating a model of the solar system include:

Styrofoam balls

Wire

Paper mache

Paint
While many approaches may be used for this, students should be asked to focus on the size of the planets and the distances between them.
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:
 Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
 Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or
above.
 Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
 IBMcompatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB
of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of
RAM, running Windows 95.
For more information, visit
What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.
Bookmarks:
The following sites should be bookmarked:
Nanoworld
http://www.uq.oz.au/nanoworld/nanohome.html
This is a terrific site that includes pictures of highlymagnified items, such as blood, human hair, insects, etc. Also includes pictures created using an electron microscope.
Views of the Solar System
http://bang.lanl.gov/solarsys/
This site includes a tour of the solar system. It also includes information concerning the planets and some good animations.
Solar System Tour
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/Tour/Oct18.html
This site includes some terrific planetary images.
Express Tour of the Solar System
http://www.astro.ku.dk/~lars_c/tbp/nineplanets/express.html
A resource for planetary information.
Welcome to the Planets
http://www.eps.mcgill.ca/wtp/planets/index.html
A resource for planetary information.
Math Forum
http://forum.swarthmore.edu/geopow/solutions/19970919.geopow.html
Information about scientific notation.
Math Forum  Fractals
http://forum.swarthmore.edu/~steve/steve/fractals.html
Information about scientific notation and fractals.
The Fractal Microscope
http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Edu/Fractal/Fractal_Home.html
Information about scientific notation and fractals.
Of particular interest is the page Topics in Mathematics in a Fractal Class (http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Edu/Fractal/Ftopic.html).
Scientific Notation
http://edie.cprost.sfu.ca/~rhlogan/sci_not.html
Information about scientific notation.
MathMol Hypermedia Textbook
http://www.nyu.edu/pages/mathmol/textbook/middle_home.html
Information about scientific notation.
Steps
Time Allotment:
Two or three class periods.


Distribute the Remember This? worksheet located in Organizers for Students. It is helpful to introduce the use of exponential notation for expressing powers of ten and to connect this idea to the place value representation with which students are already familiar. Students may first do the calculations by hand or mentally, then confirm their answers using a calculator. The following scientific notation sites will help students with the calculations:
Scientific Notation Page
http://www.nyu.edu/pages/mathmol/textbook/scinot.html
What is Scientific Notation and How is It Used?
http://edie.cprost.sfu.ca/~rhlogan/sci_not.html
Unravelling the Mysteries of the Universe
http://forum.swarthmore.edu/geopow/solutions/19970919.geopow.html
Scientific Notation and Fractals
http://forum.swarthmore.edu/~steve/steve/fractals.html
Scientific Notation and Fractals
http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Edu/Fractal/Fractal_Home.html
Scientific Notation and Fractals
http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Edu/Fractal/Ftopic.html


The next step is to develop a number sense for very large and very small quantities and to develop an appreciation for the importance of scientific notation. Ask students to put the following numbers into their calculators: 165,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.0000000000005643They will, of course, be unable to do so, since the calculator will not accept such large or small numbers unless they are first expressed in scientific notation. Begin a discussion concerning when a person might possibly need to talk about and work with numbers that are very small or very large. Under what circumstances might this occur? Use information gathered from the following sites to fuel the discussion.
The Fractal Microscope
http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Edu/Fractal/Fractal_Home.html
Nanoworld
http://www.uq.oz.au/nanoworld/nanohome.html
Views of the Solar System
http://bang.lanl.gov/solarsys/
Solar System Tour
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/Tour/Oct18.html


Ask students to build a database of planetary information. They will find pertinent information at the following sites.
Views of the Solar System
http://bang.lanl.gov/solarsys/
Solar System Tour
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/Tour/Oct18.html
Planetary Page
http://tesuque.cs.sandia.gov/~bbooth/docs/planetaryhp.html
Express Tour of the Solar System
http://www.astro.ku.dk/~lars_c/tbp/nineplanets/express.html
Welcome to the Planets
http://www.eps.mcgill.ca/wtp/planets/index.html
The Database of Planetary Information sheet, found in Organizers for Students, will help students with data collection. Students will also be asked to express numbers in scientific notation on this sheet and will be asked questions requiring them to perform calculations using scientific notation. Examples are provided on the Scientific Notation Calculations found in Organizers for Students.


Ask students if it is possible to build a scale model of the solar system. The first thing the students should discuss is what the scale of the model should be. Since Pluto is very far away, even a small model can get out of hand! Have them try to build a model with the materials you have provided.


Ask students to build a database of microscopic items. They will find this information at the Web site Nanoworld (http://www.uq.oz.au/nanoworld/nanohome.html), where they'll find pictures of highly magnified items such as blood, human hair, and insects. The site also includes pictures created using an electron microscope.
The Database of Microscopic Information sheet, found in Organizers for Students will help students with data collection. It is important in this task for students to pay attention to the magnification levels that are provided with the images. Ask students to make drawings of some of the items that they identified at Nanoworld or related sites. Ask them to identify the level of magnification that their drawing represents.

Tips
One Computer in the Classroom
If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working have them switch places.
If you have a big monitor or projection facilities you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen. Go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. Bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.
Several Computers in the Classroom
Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages
you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.
Using a Computer Lab
A computer center or lab space, with a computertostudent ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Webbased projects. This way, the small groups of students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.
Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.