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Making Metrics Stick

US teachers- are you tired of reviewing the metric system every year? Multiple times a year? It’s almost as if students completely forget the difference between a meter and a centimeter every summer. 

The first week of school I dive right into content… I don’t waste days doing icebreakers, going over classroom procedures, or discussing lab safety rules (we worry about those as we go). I like to review how to set up a controlled experiment, identify variables, and measurement/metrics practice. 

Here are some activities you can use to review metrics with your students:

1. Start by giving students reference points to remember. For example…

  • The mass of a paperclip is roughly 1 gram. 
  • The mass of a pineapple is roughly 1 kilogram.
  • 1 meter is roughly the distance from the ground to a door handle.
  • 1 centimeter is roughly the width of your fingernail. 
  • A Smart water bottle is 1 liter. 
  • For Celsius, teach students the poem “30 is hot, 20 is nice, 10 is cold, 0 is ice.”

metric-system-teaching-resources

2. If your students need practice reviewing the different metric units of length, head to a local Ikea and grab some of their paper rulers. You can cut them up easily and show students the difference between a meter, decimeter, centimeter, and millimeter. Head to this blog post for more details. 

metric-system-scavenger-hunt

3. A fun activity for the first week of school is a metrics scavenger hunt. Give students some measurements and have them look for objects around the room that are close to the same measurement. For example, “find an object that is 10.5cm long.” You can download a free worksheet here

4. Check out these metrics resources from The Science Spot


5. To keep students sharp the whole year, try a monthly metric contest. Give them a question such as “guess the mass of this jar of jelly beans, guess the length of your hair,” etc. Have students submit their answers on a small notecard and whoever is closest at the end of the month wins a prize. 

​6. Do your students need some triple beam balance practice? Here is a virtual balance students can practice with. 

metric-system-review-puzzle

7. If you are looking for a quick formative assessment activity, check out this metric system tarsia puzzle

8. Ever heard of a metric olympics? Design olympic themed challenges for students where they practice measurement skills. Challenges could include a straw javelin throw, a paper plate discus, or cotton ball shot put. (If you do some google searching, you should be able to find templates for this). 


virtual-activity-metric-system

9. Interactive diagrams are a great way to review content, especially for students who need a little extra help or absent students who missed the lesson. Check out this interactive diagram on the metric  system. 

10. Use anchor charts or classroom posters to keep measurement front of mind for students. You can make your own or check out some I made here


What other ways do you review the metric system? Drop me a comment!

​Rock on,

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Hi, I'm Becca!

I help busy science teachers get your prep back by providing you time saving lessons, labs, and resources.

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