Do your students struggle with the concept of scientific notation and metric prefixes? We have constructed a physical number line in our classroom using the metric prefixes associated with scientific notation. We review the concepts of metric prefixes and scientific notation at the beginning of the year but have found that our students do not fully grasp the concepts.
We expect that our students be able to use the prefixes from pico- to tera- in our classroom.
Misconceptions our students have:
- Our students think that negative exponents mean its a negative number. Our solution: Zero and One are included in our number line
- Our student don’t understand that it is a scale based on the powers of ten. They don’t grasp that the difference between 10^3 and 10 ^6 is really 1,000. Our solution: Pictures on the number line help students visualize the size difference.
- Our students are not familiar with the metric system even though they have been exposed to it. Our solution: Students start off the year using the number line activity to reinforce the metric system.
- Our students are just use to moving the decimal and they do not understand what that actually means. Our solution: We added the pictures to try to allow the students to visualize the size and scale of the prefixes. We also show the Powers of Ten video to our students.