Created by:

Profile Photo

Last updated:

May 19, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


This practical, hands-on free course will help you to start thinking like a scientist, by using numbers to describe and understand the natural world.

It might be the size of the Greenland ice sheet, the number of molecules in a raindrop, or the latest set of mind-boggling numbers about climate change presented in the media.

No longer will you be put off by averages or percentages, and you'll even learn to love negative numbers. You will understand and manage numbers like a scientist. The course will introduce all the main skills you'll need to understand and communicate scientific numbers, relate them to the real world, and share your discoveries with other learners.


This course is intended for anyone with an interest in numbers and making scientific observations. It does not require mathematical skills or any previous experience of studying the subject.

There are no special requirements for this course but you may like to find a simple calculator in a drawer or on your mobile phone to help you with some of the maths calculations.

This OpenLearn science course is produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand and manage numbers better
  • Communicate scientific numbers effectively
  • Relate numbers in science to the real world.

Course Curriculum

    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • Water, water everywhere 00:15:00
    • Reflecting on numbers 00:25:00
    • We’re all scientists now 00:15:00
    • How do numbers help test scientific hypotheses? 00:20:00
    • Is homeopathy science? 00:40:00
    • SI units 00:30:00
    • Scientific notation 00:15:00
    • Big things, big numbers 00:30:00
    • Small things, small numbers 00:30:00
    • Week 1 summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:05:00
    • Calculators through the ages 00:05:00
    • Calculating areas 00:30:00
    • Area of the Greenland ice sheet 00:10:00
    • Calculating volumes 00:10:00
    • Volume of the Greenland ice sheet 00:15:00
    • Density of water 00:15:00
    • Density of the Greenland ice sheet 00:15:00
    • Why the Greenland ice sheet matters to us 00:20:00
    • Week 2 summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:03:00
    • Absolute numbers don’t tell you everything 00:20:00
    • Rounding 00:15:00
    • Rounding to decimal places 00:20:00
    • Can you eat sig figs? 00:30:00
    • Fractions and Percentages 00:30:00
    • Negative numbers 00:10:00
    • Week 3 summary 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:03:00
    • How do people ‘get’ science numbers? 00:15:00
    • Using graphs 00:30:00
    • Averages 00:10:00
    • Types of average 00:10:00
    • Using averages 00:15:00
    • Types of graph and drawing graphs 00:05:00
    • Interpreting graphs 00:45:00
    • Correlation, causation and coincidence 00:25:00
    • Create and share your own graph 00:20:00
    • Congratulations – you’re a scientist! 00:10:00

About the instructor

5 5

Instructor Rating







Profile Photo
We are an educational and skills marketplace to accommodate the needs of skills enhancement and free equal education across the globe to the millions. We are bringing courses and trainings every single day for our users. We welcome everyone woth all ages, all background to learn. There is so much available to learn and deliver to the people.