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Using Scientific Notation in Chemistry Mark as Favorite (50 Favorites)

LESSON PLAN in Dimensional Analysis, Scientific Notation, SI Units. Last updated September 09, 2021.


In this lesson, students will solve a variety of real-world problems using scientific notation. Students will listen to a convoluted radio conversation about coffee which will relate to a math-based problem that this lesson is developed around. Students will begin to recognize the benefits of using scientific notation in their calculations.

Grade Level

High school


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to

  • Convert very large and very small values into proper scientific notation
  • Recognize the benefit of using scientific notation to solve large scale problems. 

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Scientific Notation
  • Dimensional Analysis
  • SI Units


Teacher Preparation: 20 minutes
Lesson: 50 minutes


  • Projector to display radio file, and PowerPoint file.
  • Calculators
  • Copies of formative quiz and post-lesson quiz (described in teacher notes).


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • Begin class with a (non-graded) quiz asking some pointed questions about applying exponential notation in daily life. I have found it helpful to use a formative assessment tool that has students solve problems about themselves, but in scientific notation. A non-graded formative quiz and answer key. [Provided in the Downloads box at the top of this page.]
  • Next have students listen to a convoluted conversation on the radio about coffee (*video currently unavailable).
  • Using the provided PowerPoint “Radio Coffee Solution” ask students to evaluate and recalculate the figures from the conversation. 
  • Teachers can follow this up with direct instruction as needed.
  • A non-graded post-lesson quiz and answer key have been provided to use with students as an exit ticket for this lesson.
  • This lesson assumes students can set up a problem using dimensional analysis.