Academic journal article Science Scope

All Things Great and Small

Academic journal article Science Scope

All Things Great and Small

Article excerpt

When Science Scope first decided to call for papers on scale, I wondered if we would receive manuscripts enough to fill an issue on the topic. Boy, was I wrong to worry! This issue of Science Scope has excellent articles that address all three of the AAAS aspects of scale--cosmic, molecular and geologic.

Middle level students often demonstrate limited familiarity with extremes, whether in distance, time, temperature, speed, or size; and they can have poor measuring skills and an inadequate number sense. This can make scale a very difficult concept for them to grasp. Computer simulations that allow manipulation of dimensions have given teachers a few more tools to use, but I am not sure these have made grasping scale much easier because, in my experience, most students still lack an appropriate sense of scale when they leave middle school.

To address this challenge, the concept of scale should be included at all grade levels of the middle school science curriculum. It is identified in the National Science Education Standards as a key part of the unifying concept of constancy, change and measurement. (p. 118) The AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy also addresses the importance of scale: "particularly important senses of scale to develop for science literacy are the immense size of the cosmos, the minute size of molecules, and the enormous age of the Earth (and the life on it). …

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