Understanding Significant Figures (also known as “sig figs”) is incredibly important in Science! When you collect data, whether you’re doing Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Engineering, you need to notice how precise your tools allow you to be. There should be one estimated digit in your data.
This is where the idea of significant figures comes from - from measurement! Make a note of how precise your data is before you start calculating. Then you round off to the correct number of significant digits at the end of your calculations. Otherwise, you give people the wrong idea of how precise your initial measurements were.
In this video, we’ll go over all the rules for determining significant figures. We also do examples of sig figs in calculations! We show you the rules for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. We even cover the advanced topics of significant figures in logarithms and when you raise 10 to a power.
******** You can click on the links below to jump to sections in the lesson:
0:29 Quick examples of significant figures 1:19 Where does the idea of sig figs come from? 2:30 RULE 1 2:54 RULE 2 4:22 RULE 3 4:58 RULE 4 6:40 Adding and Subtracting Significant Figures 7:30 Multiplying and Dividing Significant Figures 8:14 Logarithms and 10^x with Significant Figures 9:31 Super Useful TIP!
About our instructor: Kimberly Hatch Harrison received degrees in Biology and English Literature from Caltech before working in pharmaceuticals research, developing drugs for autoimmune disorders. She then continued her studies in Molecular Biology (focusing on Immunology and Neurobiology) at Princeton University, where she began teaching as a graduate student. Her success in teaching convinced her to leave the glamorous world of biology research and turn to teaching full-time, accepting a position at an exclusive prep school, where she taught biology and chemistry for eight years. She is now the head writer and producer of Socratica Studios.