Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Scale and Powers of Ten - Section 1: Introduction


Over the past month I have been working with lab colleagues to synthesize gold nanorods. These tiny nanostructures are currently being used in photothermal cancer research.

The topic of scale, metric prefixes, and the numbers associated with them have permeated this research. We have been measuring the chemicals used in the synthesis in milligrams. We have been analyzing our syntheses using a spectrophotometer that scans wavelengths nanometer by nanometer to discover the absorption of ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared light. We have been manipulating the size of these nanorods by altering the millimolar concentrations of the chemicals we use.

At the macroscale, the difference between a successful synthesis and an unsuccessful one are indiscernible. Only at the nanoscale can we detect whether successful synthesis has occurred. Students should have a solid grasp of the various scales, as well as the numbers and units associated with them, in order to fully understand chemistry.

  Why This Is Important
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Why This Is Important
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Scale and Powers of Ten

Unit 1: Chemical and Physical Properties
Lesson 1 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to relate scale to metric prefixes and the power of ten.

Big Idea: Scientists use instruments and metric units to quantify and understand the size of objects from huge to tiny.

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