How Many Cells Are in the Human Body?

This How Many Cells Are in the Human Body? activity & project also includes:

Investigating the large numbers of science is the task in a simple but deep activity. Given a one-sentence problem set-up and some basic assumptions, the class sets off on an open-ended investigation that really gives some context to all the big numbers that get thrown around a math or science class. Emphasis on practice with conversion formulas and ideas of mass vs. volume vs. density links to any level of high school science.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • Calculate cell count for a variety of animals
  • Link to a science unit on Avogadro's number, and convert the number of cells to number of moles of cells
  • Perform calculation for other cell shapes, noticing how this changes the approximation answer at the end
Classroom Considerations

  • Might need to exercise sensitivity with regard to weight and potential triggering of learners with eating disorders or obesity issues. Giving an alternate of another animal's mass for calculations is a possible solution
  • Class will most likely need significant guidance to get from the simple problem set up to the more complicated result

  • Open-ended activity forces development of mathematical attack strategy
  • Practice working with large numbers and reasonableness checks

  • Problem set-up not on a separate page or in worksheet format
Common Core