Agronomy and Horticulture Department




Date of this Version


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Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (PASSeL) Lesson


Copyright © 2020 Dillon Fogarty, Conor D. Barnes, Julie A. Fowler, Katharine F. E. Hogan, Jessica E. Johnson, Alison K. Ludwig, and Dirac Twidwell. Used by permission.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. DGE-1735362 and 1920938. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Scale represents the physical dimensions of time and space and provides the necessary context for our observations of the world. Different disciplines associate with different scales and confronting the most pressing global issues will require integration of knowledge gained from multiple scales. In this lesson plan we discuss what scale is and how it helps us understand the natural world.

Overview - What Will You Learn in This Lesson?

This lesson discusses what scale is and how it relates to understanding and interpreting natural phenomena.


This lesson covers the concept of scale. At the completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the meaning of scale in terms of grain and extent in space and time
  2. Explain why different patterns can emerge from different scales
  3. Differentiate between functional and observational scale
  4. Explain how processes at broad scales can constrain those at fine scales
  5. Explain how fine-scale processes can become broad-scale processes