Warning! The Scale of the Universe is addictive. You may have trouble pulling yourself away from this fascinating exploration of size, scale, and relationships. It takes a moment to load, but once it does, it presents items in order of size, from quantum foam at 1X10-35 meters, past microbes, ants, giant earthworms, the Titanic, and the Tarantula Nebula, all the way to the estimated size of the observable universe at 9.3 X 1028 meters. Zoom up or down the range of sizes. Click on items to see their sizes and interesting snippets of information. Did you know the Gomez’ Hamburger is a burger-shaped young star with light reflecting dust buns? Or that if you eat a bowl of rice every day, you’ll eat about 300 million grains of rice in your lifetime? Me either. Can you imagine molecules as huge? You can now.
Now, want to blown away again? According to ABC News, The Scale of the Universe was created by Cary Huang (on the right), a 14-year-old ninth grader from Moraga, California, with technical help from his twin brother Michael. Inspired by a seventh-grade science teacher’s video on the size of cells, Cary decided to create his own interactive version with “a wider range of sizes.” That has to be some kind of understatement! So how to we use this marvel in schools?
- The Scale of the Universe is, of course, a great resource for teaching about the scale of the universe, and astronomical distances, but it is a lot more.
- It has to be the best resource ever for helping students understand the magnitude of positive and negative exponents. Wouldn’t it be fun to have students create mini-versions of the “Scale” using different objects and appropriate exponents?
- Think about using The Scale of the Universe in art class as an example of interactive art. You might follow up by having them explore the Virtual Broad Art Museum (VBAM). Is that a medium some of your students might want to explore?
- Maybe most of all, The Scale of the Universe can be a lesson about passion, and the drive to explore something interesting. Wouldn’t be wonderful to use it to inspire students to find their own interests?
I know there are many more ideas. Please share yours.