A Sense of Scale : Visualising the Big and the Small

Here are two great applications to use with students when trying to visualise a sense of scale. How much smaller are atoms compared to things that we can see like a grain of rice. How much bigger is our galaxy compared to our solar system etc.

I’ve blogged about both before, but was showing them to a PGCE group the other day so thought it would be good to share them on the blog again for those who missed it.

The Cell Size and Scale interactive from the Genetic Science Learning Centre, University of Utah, lets you zoom in from a coffee bean down to a carbon atom.

Simply drag the slider across the screen to zoom in and out and view cells, organlles, paramecium, viruses and molecules, ending with a carbon atom. It’s a brilliant, clear way to demonstrate  relative scales of objects.


Take a look at : http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/scale/

A similar tool is The Scale of the Universe which lets you scroll from the size of a person and head out into space – viewing the solar system, galaxy and eventually the entire universe. Or zoom smaller and smaller down to sub atomic particles.

Take a look at : http://www.htwins.net/scale2/

Both of these resources would work really well on an interactive whiteboard.

As an extra – this Powers of 10 video is a little old these days, but it’s still pretty good.

Let me know what you think of these resources in the comments below!

Update : also take a look at http://www.cellsalive.com/howbig.htm (thanks @jpscience)

Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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