Reflection: Modeling How Small is a Virus--Setting the Scale - Section 6: Putting It All Together: Visualizing Powers of Ten


One of the crosscutting concepts proposed by the Next Generation Science Standards is Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. When students are studying certain scientific phenomena, it is highly important for them to understand what is can still occur in the natural world at different measures of size, time, and energy. They also need to able to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance. 

I chose this strategy because it requires students to think about very small things in a concrete way. When students are first learning about the nanoscopic world, the more concrete it can be made the better. It helps students solidify their thinking. Once students have a good idea of how small a virus is then they can understand how viruses are transmitted. They can also understand the conditions under which a virus can become airborne.  

At the end of the lesson, students determine on their own that they need to make another scale where 2 micrometers is represented by 2 meters. Several of the objects that they are placing on the scale are right on top of each other and it is difficult to compare their size. Students construct that scale in the next lesson.



  The importance of understanding scale.
  Modeling: The importance of understanding scale.
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How Small is a Virus--Setting the Scale

Unit 2: Viruses
Lesson 1 of 11

Objective: The student will compare the viruses with other living things.

Big Idea: Ever wonder how small a virus really is? Check this lesson out which compares virus size to common, everyday objects.

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electron micrograph of virus enhanced
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