Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Microbiology, Virus

Introduction

Have you ever seen a real virus? Probably not—they are so tiny that it is impossible to see them with your naked eyes. But how big or small are viruses really? The coronavirus Sars-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19, is about 120 nanometers in size. One nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter! How many of these tiny coronaviruses do you think can you line up inside a pencil dot? In this activity, you will find out by creating a scale model that allows you to compare the size of many different small objects.

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies

This activity was inspired by "The Science of Microbes, Comparing Sizes of Microorganisms," activity from the Center for Educational Outreach at Baylor College of Medicine

This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Units and Conversion Table
  • Printed Scaling Chart
  • Meterstick or measuring tape
  • Yarn or string (at least 12 m long); thin yarn or yarn with a medium thickness works best.
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Pencil and pencil sharpener or a 1-mm mechanical pencil
  • Tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Optional: Magnifying glass
  • Optional, if you measure in two dimensions: Large space (10 m2) either outside (driveway, yard, park) or indoors (wall, floor)
  • Optional, if you measure in two dimensions: Painter's tape, additional yarn or string, or chalk
    Materials needed for the 'Small, Tiny, Invisible: How Big Is a Virus?' activity.

Reviews

|
Science Buddies |
Was this review helpful?
Be the first one to review this activity.
Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Microbiology, Virus
icon scientific method

Ask an Expert

Curious about the science?
Post your question for our scientists.

Free science fair projects.