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Mon, Oct 02 2017 - 09:41 PM

A Question Answered About Scientific Notation 8th Grade Math #InHomeMathTutoringHonolulu

J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

A Question Answered About Scientific Notation 8th Grade Math#InHomeMathTutoringHonolulu  written by dual certified teacher, substitute teacher, in home tutor and behavior problem management expert for Honolulu Hawaii and all of Oahu and private in home self-defense and bully-defense instructor covering Honolulu Hawaii and all of Oahu and author of When Bullies Attack - Self-Defense for Kids Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. Oahu call or text 808.224.1870 email my main business email

What is Scientific Notation Rick?

Scientific notation is a way scientists and researchers handle very large numbers.  For example 16,000,000 becomes 1.6 x 10^7. The decimal point is basically just moved to the left until just one number is in front of the decimal. The number is then multiplied to that same power of 10.

The Question Was
How do you explain that the value of the number doesn't change when a number is converted into scientific notation?

A lot of middle school students have trouble explaining since middle school is the first time students are asked to think for themselves. In elementary school a student could remember what the teacher said, write it down, and pass. Suddenly in middle school students are asked to write down their thoughts on a regular basis. 

A Couple Math Teaching Tips 

Don't use big numbers in your explanation. Big numbers just add to confusion so stay on topic with small numbers. 

Assume nothing. I always tell my students math is like a giant Janga game. If you pull out the wrong block because you didn't understand something the whole thing goes tumbling down.

On To My Explanation  

I put this equation on the board


I asked if that we're true. 

Students said no.

I added this

3=3x10 (.1) translation 3 equals 3 times 10 times point 1 

I asked if this was true

After some thinking students said yes.

I asked what a reciprocal was.

Students couldn't explain, but I got the impression they knew what it was. I explained it's the number when multiplied by another number gives you one. Students faces and “oh yeahs” indicated they remembered. 

I asked what the reciprocal of 10 was.

Students replied 1/10 

I asked what .1 was in fraction form

After some thinking students replied 1/10 

I asked if this was true 


After some thinking students realized that was 

3=3x1 which is true

At which point I concluded scientific notation was just a fancy way of using the reciprocal of a number.  

The faces lit up along with the sound I love


A longer explanation than some other math teachers may use, but one that will be remembered. 


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