Reflection: Real World Applications How Small is a Virus--Real-Life Examples - Section 5: Teacher mini-lecture: How small?


Even though it may seem frivolous, time taken to teach about scale will come back ten-fold because you will not have to deal with misconceptions about how small things act or how large things act. In fact, Scale, Proportion, and Quantity are important crosscutting concepts in the Next Generation Science Standards. Students need to understand the significance of a phenomenon as it relates to the size, proportion, and number of the objects involved. They also need to be able to conceptualize the orders of magnitude to "understand how a model of one scale relates to another scale". 

If students can begin to understand the nanoscopic scale while in biology, they will not only will they better understand how viruses behave, but they will also understand cellular interactions and processes. In addition, they be more successful when they take chemistry and physics as they will better understand the processes involved in chemical reactions and quantum mechanics. All of these processes occur in the nanoscopic world and are much different than the macroscopic world.

Whenever I start teaching about the microscopic or nanoscopic worlds, I always compare to items known to students. By introducing these seemingly unknown worlds with hands-on activities, I can make sure I teach to all my students. Throughout the years that I have taught, I have found if I simply lecture and show “to scale” images half of my classes will walk away with no conceptualization of the size of the objects about which I am referring. Those students have to have a hands-on experience in order to cement that learning. I have also found that it is important to refer back to scale many times throughout the year to remind students. They tend to forget.  ;-)


  Understanding Scale
  Real World Applications: Understanding Scale
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How Small is a Virus--Real-Life Examples

Unit 2: Viruses
Lesson 2 of 11

Objective: Students will compare and contrast the size of multiple viruses.

Big Idea: What makes a virus airborne? It's all about the size, my friend.

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