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Tools of Seeing

By Kelly O'Donnell

Science Forward

This video really focuses on having a sense of scale, a Number Sense skill. We talk to astronomers, biologists, and geologists about how they use tools to enhance their sight and how this allows them to make meaningful observations in their fields.

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Version 1.0 - published on 25 Jul 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4440Z - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

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Scientists use a range of tools to make small things bigger and brighter, and distant things closer and clearer.  From telescopes to microscopes, these tools of seeing provide more information and understanding than our own eyes can.

Science Senses:

Number Sense

  • Having a sense of scale
  • Converting to different units
  • Using different orders of magnitude

Knowledge Sense

  • Using multiple lines of evidence to support conclusions

Classroom Ideas:

  • This video pairs nicely with the Astronomy and Geology videos. It also goes well with any activities you are already doing that involve microscopes.
  • If you have access to microscopes or telescopes, use them in class to collect data. If you don’t have access, images from either make good substitutes. You could have students estimate the number of galaxies in the Universe from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image, for example.
  • If you have access to hand lenses, you can do an activity where you have students make observations just with their naked eyes and then have them document what different things they can see with only a 10x magnification.
  • Since this video is heavy on the Number Sense, you could construct a problem set where students have to calculate across many orders of magnitude, with multiple units.

Possible Readings:

  • OpenStax. 2016. Chapter 17: Analyzing Starlight from OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax.OER
  • White and Dennin. 2008. Chapter 2: Numbers and Physical Reality from Science Appreciation: Introduction to Science Literacy. OER

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