(Optional) Activity 2.2 - Activity 2.2: From Big to Small (30 min)

Target Student Performance

Students organize images to “zoom in” and “zoom out” of six different systems at four different scales: atomic-molecular, microscopic, macroscopic, and large scales.

Students practice sorting pictures of items by their size on the macroscopic and atomic-molecular scales.

Accommodation: If you have a number of students with special needs in your class, it’s recommended to do this optional activity.

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


Print one copy of the Powers of Ten 11 x 17 Poster for each group. Print one copy of 2.2 Powers of Ten Cards for each group. Either cut the cards apart before class, or have the students cut the cards in their groups.


1. Have students explore the Powers of Ten websites

This activity has introductory materials that make it optional at the high school level. Show students websites that illustrate the Powers of Ten (see links in the Extending the Learning section below).

Notice students' successes and difficulties in placing images at the appropriate Powers of Ten benchmark scales.

  • Use this optional activity for students who are less experienced with systems at different scales.
  • Have students use the microscope to look at cells to get a better sense of scale.


  • Focus on the four benchmark scales (e.g., atomic-molecular) rather than the exact Power of Ten (e.g., 10-
    8m) for each picture.
  • The Powers of Ten with Pictures 11 x 17 Poster has images on the poster that are only to be referenced after this activity is completed, so make sure to wait until the end of the activity to post this version of the poster.