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Scientific Notation

Page history last edited by David Young 7 years, 1 month ago

We know science deals with both very large and very small numbers (see orders of magnitude).  Scientific notation makes it easy to write these numbers.



DEFINE - Scientific notation is a different format for writing large and small numbers. A number written in scientific notation consists of a decimal value between 1 and 10 (represented by a) multiplied by a power of 10 (represented by 10n).


a x 10n


Scientific notation is how scientists write large and small numbers in an efficient manner that easily indicates the order of magnitude of the value. 



USE - To use scientific notation effectively, you need to understand three things :


  1. How to take a number written in standard (normal) notation and write it in scientific notation
  2. How to take a number in scientific notation and convert it back to standard notation
  3. How to enter and read numbers in scientific notation on your calculator.


Writing large and small numbers in scientific notation :  



APPLY - Practice questions Part 1 on this worksheet     


Changing scientific notation back to normal notation :  

And a great review . . .


APPLY - Practice questions Part 2 on this worksheet     





A COMMON QUESTION - How do I enter numbers using scientific notation on a TI calculator?








ANSWER - The EE button is used to enter numbers in scientific notation on a TI calculator.


NOTE: EE is used to represent "times 10 to the power of".


EXAMPLE: Input 3.5 x 106


• Press [3] [.] [5]
• Press [2ND] [EE]
• Press [6]

• Press [ENTER] and the number will be displayed in normal notation




Entering numbers in scientific notation and performing calculations

on a TI calculator: 



If you are really stuck trying to do math on your calculator with scientific notation, this video might help.



Your calculator can also be used to convert between standard and scientific notation.  This video presents this useful function although it can be time consuming.  It is usually faster to do the conversion manually. 


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