This page contains an applet based on the Powers of Ten concept that was advanced by architect Charles Eames, who first utilized powers to aid in visualization of large numbers and who directed the film of the same name. The page contains an applet that allows viewers to look at the Milky Way at 10 million light years from Earth and then move through space towards Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree. After that, the applet takes you from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA, and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons. The page also explains exponential notation.
This applet can be used to reinforce mathematics concepts as well as help students understand and compare the size of things in our world and universe. If using this with younger students, emphasize the fact that exponential notation is a convenient way to write numbers that are very large or very small. A related activity also found on the Molecular Expressions website is Perspectives: Powers of Ten.
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