There is no "But why?" behind scientific notation either. It is a definition created to ease the cumbersome nature of incredibly large or microscopically small numbers. Scientific notation is a method of writing a number as a decimal multiplied by a power of ten. The definition restricts the decimal to a number greater than or equal to 1 and less than 10. It's still the same number...just written in a specified format.
Have you used place value and powers of ten to rewrite numbers according to the scientific notation format? Base ten blocks can model the decomposition of a number and serve as a beneficial launching pad for writing large numbers in scientific notation.
|Scientific Notation with Base Ten Blocks|
Once students grasp the definition, continue with the "Sort This!" activity to rewrite numbers from different forms including standard notation, product or quotient form, as a power of ten, or scientific notation. The "I have... Who has..." activity provides a quick informal assessment of converting numbers. Also the "RallyCoach" and "Stations" activities require students to solve problems involving numbers written in scientific notation.
|Scientific Notation Resources|
This activity set highlights Common Core State Standards 8.EE.A.3 and 8.EE.A.4 included in MATH-8 and Accelerated MATH-7.