Differences in Scientific Notation

Directions: Using the digits 1 to 9, at most one time each, fill in the boxes to make the largest (or smallest) absolute difference.


What are the biggest and smallest numbers you can make with these digits in scientific notation?
Try thinking of the numbers you create on a number line.


Largest: 8×10^9 – 2×10^1
Smallest 1×10^3 – 9×10^2

Source: Marie Isaac

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  1. For smallest difference, one of my classes found the following:

    1 x 10^3 – 9 x 10^2

    1 x 1000 – 9 x 100

    1000 – 900 = 100

    • Aw, shoot! One of my students came up with one better than the solution for smallest difference, and I was going to email it in, but now I see that someone else (Bob Perez) already found it. She came up with 1 x 10^3 – 9 x 10^2.

    • Thanks for sharing this solution Bob – your class is awesome to have found it. I’ve updated the answer to reflect this – do let them know!

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