This is a temporary page which briefly housed preparations for a two-hour "course" I was doing as part of MIT's ESP Splash on the weekend of November 23.

Comments would be most welcome - Mitchell Charity <>.

How big are things?
How big is a virus? A mountain? A star? This course is intended to help develop a familiarity with size. We'll watch Eames and Morrisons' film "Powers of Ten: About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe, and the Effect of Adding Another Zero", work with a variant intended to be easier to remember and use (, and do related order-of-magnitude, back of the envelope estimation and Fermi Questions/Problems.

The basic approach:
  Show the "Powers of Ten" films to introduce "zooming", exponential notation, and size. Show the short prototype version first, to introduce film concepts, and allow pre-film discussion.
  Use a "gridded" classroom, one with pervasive length references (along walls, as poles, on desks, a hanging cubic meter, etc), to transition to, and provide a "stage" for, "How Big Are Things?".
  Use integrated props, stories, and a rapid question->group-response dialog, to build familiarity with human-scale metric length, 10^x and order of magnitude calculation, "How Big Are Thing?"'s 1000x scaled "rooms", Fermi Question reasoning, and some basic size/scale concepts. Leave participants able to pursue it all on their own.
  Do a quick pre- and post- class "test" to get a vaguely quantitative feel for whether this all worked.

There is still much more of this in my head than on paper, but it's slowly starting to come together.

presentation pages


all the slides:

development musings

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