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RecycleJack Marine's picture

Final Project Reflection

When we think of scale we often think of length (like the distance from Pennsylvania to Florida).  But the idea of scale can be applied to any scientific measurement.  Some of the more familiar measurements where scale is important include:


electric charge









specific heat capacity







I was hooked by Paul Burgmayer’s presentation of scale. While watching his PowerPoint presentation I was intrigued by some of the images. I can’t say that I am a visual learner, although I am often fascinated by odd visuals in the environment. But I favor my sense of smell, taste, and touch too. Here’s my understanding of SCALE: It can be about anything you see or think about. It’s what’s different from the norm.

I’ve visited many other countries, and I always pay attention to the scale of things. Scale isn’t always just about size, it can be the way things are different in different countries or cultures. In China I noticed dog tails sold at an outdoor market. In Israel I saw spices sold in an outdoor market that were more fragrant and in Brazil, the  quality of freshly caught lobsters were much different from those I buy at Super Fresh- But in Israel I saw a fighter jet fly across the horizon- you don’t see that on the Main Line. I want to take this idea of comparing objects into the classroom and talk about scale and differences.

Have you ever thought about the scale of what happens when you get injured? Many years ago I caught a live rockfish in the Atlantic Ocean and holding it in my hands I showed it off to friends. Later that same day, my hand swelled up to the size of a softball from this poisonous fish! What a difference in the size of my hand- hence scale.

Seeing the photographs of Paul’s paper mill machinery reminded me of a denim mill I visited in Hong Kong. There were a lot of things I now realize was out of my scale of normalcy. What will my students know about the scale of things in their world? Will they know about scale at all? When I first teach students about properties, they think it’s about things they own- but in science properties describe characteristics of something.

In the denim mill, the sounds were LOUD, the smells were STRONG, and the machines were BIG.  If you want to see how a denim mill runs, go to:

So I will use this idea of scale to compare molecular structures to life size objects with the middle school students in my new position.

I was also fascinated with Wil’s Fast Plants project. I am in the process of creating a curriculum unit involving soil. Since plants grow in soil and soil type is critical to plant quality, and paper is made from plants there is a real connection here. Then you can connect Paul’s scale idea to different sized trees and show students a tree seedling and a Giant Sequoia.

I connected with the Wisconsin Fast Plants because I took a training many years ago using these plants, but I couldn’t find a way to apply it with my classes at that time. Now that I am a seasoned science teacher, I now understand how you can measure the environmental and genetic characteristics of these plants.

Here’s the whole process of growing Wisconsin Fast Plants:





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