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Mathematics for science and technology
Mathematics for science and technology

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Week 1: Powers and scientific notation


This first week of the course covers two areas that will give you a firm foundation to build on for the next seven weeks. To start with you will learn the rules used to help manipulate values involving indices (or powers). These will be invaluable when you can to start your study of algebra in Week 3, and logarithms in 5. Leading on from this will be scientific notation, which is commonly used in science and technology. It uses powers of 10 to enable large and small numbers to be written in a way that makes them easier to read, and also work with. You’ll find that a good working knowledge of the rules of indices comes in handy as well.

There are activities to complete during the week to provide you with the opportunity to practice the new skills and knowledge that you acquire. With any subject practice is important but for most of us this is especially important with maths, so do attempt as many of the activities as you can.

By the end of this week you will have:

  • gained an understanding of the rules for indices with the same base number
  • applied the rules for indices in different situations
  • gained an understanding of scientific notation
  • written large and small values in scientific notation
  • written values shown in scientific notation in decimal form.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.