Classroom Activities for Scientific Notation

Calculators can be used to teach scientific notation.
••• scientific calculator image by Andrzej Thiel from

Scientific notation is a method of larger numbers in a more compact format using multiples of 10. For a refresher course, view the short video below:

Use different classroom activities to help students learn scientific notation. By using activities in the classroom, students find ways to associate scientific notation with real world scenarios, helping the lesson stay in their minds.

Web Quest

A Web Quest allows students to use the Internet to help find information about a topic, according to Math Goodies. Let students research different ways scientific notation is used in daily life and for which careers scientific notation is necessary. A scientific notation Web Quest asks students to search specific Web sites and perform activities, such as solving problems, researching terminology and answering questions. Common questions involve converting measurements found on the site into scientific notation. These can be performed individually or in groups


Create a solar system or map of the solar system. Ask students to convert the distance between various planets to scientific notation. Different sets of solar systems can be set up to practice converting between scientific notation and standard notation. This activity can also be performed with scientific measurements, such as the size of molecules, large distances and many astronomy activities outside of the solar system.


Use play money and let students determine which set of money they would rather have based on the scientific notation values. To choose the stack with the most money, students must correctly convert scientific notation to standard notation.


Allow students to use graphing calculators to perform work through scientific notation problems. Use word problems and real world examples. Discuss the problems and answers as a class to help everyone understand the proper methods and notation.

Flash Cards

Have students play a matching game in groups with flash cards. Students win the game by correctly choosing which cards match, one with standard notation and one with scientific notation. Students can switch sets of cards to start a new game with fresh numbers.

Other Games

Other games can be used to help teach scientific notation, such as fill in the blank or a television-type quiz. In fill in the blank, provide scientific notation with the exception of the exponent or decimal point. For the television-type quiz, students pretend to compete in a game show where they must answer scientific notation questions correctly. Prizes can be awarded for the students with the most points at the end of the game.

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