What van Leeuwenhoek Saw
This activity complements the animated short video Seeing the Invisible. Students explore concepts related to relative size and scale using cards of cells and microorganisms.
Students begin by reviewing metric units and how to convert between them. They then apply that knowledge to building scale models of different microorganisms and cells first visualized by 17th-century scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. Finally, they use the models to compare relative sizes of the cells and organisms.
The “Card Images” ZIP file contains individual image files for the cards used in this activity that can be used in the classroom, particularly in online courses. A document within the ZIP file contains suggestions for their use. These card images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CCC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. We would ask that you attribute these to BioInteractive and not use them for commercial purposes.
The activity is adapted from an activity originally developed by Project Neuron.
Student Learning Targets
- Calculate the sizes of organisms for comparison using ratios and conversions.
- Create scale models to demonstrate and compare the sizes of organisms.
conversion, magnification factor, microbe, ratio, scale model
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
HS-LS2-2; SEP1, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
IB Biology (2016)
Common Core (2010)
Math.N-Q.1, Math.N-Q.3, Math.A-CED.1; MP1, MP4, MP5, MP6, MP8
Vision and Change (2009)
CC2; DP1, DP2