# 2  Maths Skills

Basic mathematical skills of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication are required for this module plus the following ideas;

• Understanding scale and changing units of measurement

Units look at the scale of something. The metre (m) and the kilogram (kg) are units of measurement we use in our everyday lives. In this module, you will also come across units measuring the very small, from the size of an atom and subatomic particles, to the very large, the size of the Sun, stars and galaxies.

For very big or very small numbers it is often more appropriate to change the units of measurement, to something that is more easily understood.

Can you convert different units of measurement? For example millimetre (mm) to kilometre (km).

• Understanding percentages

A percentage is a way of saying “how many out of one hundred”, e.g.

They are also used to look at how values change, a percentage increase or decrease compared with the original value.

• Understanding areas and volumes

Are you able to calculate the areas or volumes of different shapes?

• Understanding equations

An equation is a mathematical statement where both sides must be balanced. The values either side of an equals sign must be the same.

Are you able to re-arrange equations so you can work out the unknown variable?

• Understanding very large or small numbers

It often gets confusing writing out all those zeros in big and small numbers. Do you understand the idea of the powers of 10 notation for very big or small numbers?

The distance from the Earth to the Sun is about 150 000 000 km or 1.5 × 108 km.

The size of a hydrogen atom is about 0.000 000 000 1 m or 1 × 10-10 m.

A positive power of ten denotes how many times a number is multiplied by 10 while a negative power of ten denotes how many times a number is divided by 10.

• Handling data

Can you collect information (or data)? Work out what it is telling you? And show it to someone else?

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1  Understanding Science Quiz