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Coffee to Carbon

Source Institutions

    University of Utah

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Coffee to Carbon

In this activity, learners place cards featuring biological structures in order by their relative size from largest to smallest. The cards feature structures ranging from the carbon atom (340 pm) to a skin cell (30 μm) to a coffee bean (8 mm). This activity can also be used as a formative assessment or an anticipatory set.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
      • Protists and Fungi
      • Classification
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Malone, Molly; Avery, Sheila; Conley, Thomas; Starr, Harmony

Source Collection:

  • Teach.Genetics


  • All Rights Reserved, University of Utah, ©2008

Funding Source:

  • Science Education Partnership Award from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health


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  • Thumbnail Sizes by mpreeve on 2013-01-30