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Online course

Basic Science: Understanding Numbers

This course explains how you can use numbers to describe the natural world and make sense of everything from atoms to oceans.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Basic Science: Understanding Numbers

Upgrade - $59
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Why join the course?

This practical, hands-on 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.

You may also be interested in joining Basic Science: Understanding Experiments.

All Open University science courses presented on FutureLearn are produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.

Download video: standard or HD

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Calculate and use a scientific calculator
  • Calculate volumes, areas and density
  • Apply numbers to understand how simple models help understand scientific problems, such as ice melting and climate change
  • Demonstrate and use numbers to test scientific hypotheses
  • Apply SI units to length, time, mass temperature used for science
  • Interpret numbers written in scientific notation to understand the natural world
  • Develop skills to round numbers written in scientific notation
  • Calculate and use fractions, percentages and averages for science
  • Evaluate positive and negative numbers
  • Apply, create and evaluate graphs to understand issues in science

Who is the course for?

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.

Who will you learn with?

Simon Kelley

I'm an academic at the Open University responsible for the virtual microscope for Earth sciences and working on the Moons and Numbers MOOCs. I'm a geologist specialising in finding the age of rocks.

Luke Mander

I am a lecturer in Earth Sciences at The Open University. My research aims to understand the origin, evolution and ecology of tropical rainforests.

Who developed the course?

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Supporters

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $59 (+ shipping) you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

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  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

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  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose to take a course for free.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

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  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.

Upgrade


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