Course: Elementary Algebra
Topic: Exponents and Polynomials
Subtopic: Scientific Notation


Scientific notation is a specific way of writing numbers and involves positive/negative powers. It allows us to easily deal with very large (and very small) numbers without having to write out and keep track of dozens of zeros. Scientific notation opens up a world of applications especially in the physical sciences!


By the end of this topic you should know and be prepared to be tested on:


Terms you should be able to define: decimal form (of a number), scientific notation

Supplementary Resources

You must be able to use a calculator (handheld or software) to perform operations in scientific notation. If you have a handheld graphing calculator then these sites may help:

Recommended! It's amazing how quickly things grow by powers of 10. Check out either Powers of Ten (animation) or Powers of Ten (video).

The following links are for optional exploration: The mega-penny project and
What does one trillion dollars look like?. Conceptualizing large numbers helps citizens understand the enormity of our National Debt.