Adult Ed
Power Up: Using Scientific Notation



Problems that involve calculations using very large or very small numbers can escalate into "crises" when the appropriate tools and techniques for solving them are not available. Scientific notation provides an effective means for handling numbers that might otherwise be considered "unwieldy" in problem solving. This lesson will utilize VOD technology to access instructional media that addresses scientific notation in less than 3 minutes!

Subject Matter

  • Math

Learning objectives:

  • Students will be able to convert numbers expressed in decimal format to scientific notation (or scientific notation to decimal format)
  • Students will be able to recognize the utility in changing number formats for calculation and analysis
  • Students will develop basic skills for use of number sense functions on scientific calculators



In grades 6-8, students should understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
  • Compare and order fractions, decimals, and percents efficiently and find their approximate locations on a number line;
  • Develop an understanding of large numbers and recognize and appropriately use exponential, scientific, and calculator notation

Standard 3: Mathematics
Students will understand mathematics and become mathematically confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically, by applying mathematics in real-world settings, and by solving problems through the integrated study of number systems, geometry, algebra, data analysis, probability, and trigonometry.
  • Understand and use rational and irrational numbers
  • Use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and exponentiation with real numbers and algebraic expressions
  • Choose appropriate representations to facilitate the solving of a problem


GED Connection: Mathematics (2001) Cathy Fillmore Hoyt, PBS LiteracyLink, pages 259, 267, 268
Companion workbook to PBS programming

Media Components

Zany World of Basic Math, The Module 6: Working with Decimals; segment 6, Scientific Notation (Video on Demand Web-based streaming/download)

Converting fractions to decimals convert.html

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Widener University: Scientific notation / Decimal notation conversion drills

AAA Math: Scientific notation game (timed)

Online scientific calculator


Prep for Teachers

  • Bookmark sites
  • Make copies of handouts, 1 per student
  • Register for Video on Demand access
  • Download media player plug-in
  • Download Video on Demand segment for inclusion in media playlist