Lesson #1 - Length
Length Presentation (PPT) - I use this presentation to review the basic units of length and how to measure distances.
Length Worksheet (pdf) - Student worksheet that goes along with the presentation.
Length Lab (pdf) - Students are challenged to find the length of various objects in millimeters, centimeters, and meters.
Lesson #2 - Mass
Mass Presentation (PPT) - I use this presentation to review the basic units of mass and how to measure mass using a triple-beam balance.
Mass Worksheet (pdf) - Student worksheet that goes along with the presentation.
Mass Lab (pdf) - For the mass lab, students first estimate the mass of various objects, then find the actual mass using triple-beam balances or other scales. To prepare for the activity you will need to organize various items (coins, paper clips, marbles, rocks, large washers/s-hooks, etc.) and triple-beam balances or scales for each group. They may group items together to reach a targeted mass, such as three pennies for 5 grams, or just use a single item. This lab is always a hit and the students get much needed estimation practice.
Another idea (from Sandra Gasparovich, Central Jr. High, East Peoria, IL) involves using film canisters, a triple-beam balance, and a variety of materials to create a set of masses. The students may use the masses during lab activities or challenge them to take them home and find items with like masses. Another twist is to fill pairs of canisters with various objects (pennies, popcorn, seeds, screws, washers, M&Ms). Give each student one canister and allow time for them to search for their "partner" - without looking into the canister. Once the groups have found their match, the students can check their results by opening the canisters.
Lesson #3 - Volume
Volume Presentation (PPT) - I use this presentation to review the basic units of volume and how to measure volume of regular and irregular objects.
Volume Worksheet (pdf) - Student worksheet that goes along with the presentation.
Volume Lab (pdf) - This lab consists of measuring the volume of liquids and regular solids as well as using graduated cylinders and overflow cans to find the volume of irregular objects (rocks).
Lesson #4 - Density
Mystery Canisters (pdf) - The density lab, known as Mystery Canisters, challenges students to modify three film canisters so that they have one that floats, one that sinks, and one that will remain suspended in the tub of tap water. Materials needed for the lab are: plastic tub of water (or the bottom half of a 2-liter soda bottle), three film canisters (free from Walmart, KMart, etc.), and an assortment of small objects (pennies, paperclips, marbles, etc.) for mass. Students will also need equipment to help them measure mass (triple-beam balance) and volume (graduated cylinders and overflow cans.)
Students are allowed a few minutes to create the three canisters that will (1) float, (2) sink, and (3) remain suspended. Students may have difficulty getting one of the cansisters perfectly suspended. If the students can get the canister to suspend with less than half of the lid above the surface, they should get numbers that result in a density close to 1.0 g/ml. Once the students have their canisters approved, they find the mass and volume of the canisters and calculate each density. They should notice that the floating vial has a density less than 1 g/ml, the sinking vial has a density greater than 1 g/ml, and the suspended vial has a density close to 1 g/ml.
Also available ...
Gummy Bear Lab (pdf) - This lab incorporates a variety of metric measurements (length, volume, mass, and density) to record what happens to a gummy bear when it is placed in a water overnight.
Metric Mania Survey (pdf) - This worksheet is used at the end of the unit to review the material we have studied.
Metric Challenge Puzzle (pdf) - Students review key terms from the metric system to discover the answer to a joke. An answer key is provided.
One part of my metric unit includes a few lessons related to conversions. My students have difficulty relating the English system of measurement (feet, pounds, and gallons) to the metric units (meter, kilograms, and liters).
The first lesson consists of making conversions from one system to the other. During this lesson, students use the information from a measurement chart to convert measurements. This assignment allows my students to connect the English system of measurements used in our daily lives to the metric system units.
Thanks to Christina Bryant for sharing her worksheet - Meters, Liters, & Grams (PDF)
The second lesson focuses on using a "metric ladder" to calculate conversions within the metric system. In the beginning the lesson is focused on counting the number of "jumps" it takes to move from one metric unit to another. The "jumps" determine the number of times the decimal is moved and in which direction. I remind students to count the number of jumps it would take to move from one unit to another, such as moving from meters to millimeters, rather than counting the number of boxes. To convert from meters to millimeters, it would take 3 jumps to the right which would mean the decimal would need to move 3 jumps to the right. As they learn the process and understand the value of the metric prefixes, I introduce using multiplication and division by 10, 100, and 1000 to accomplish the same conversion. They quickly learn the relationships between metric units, such as 1000 milliliters in 1 liter.
Want a great way to help the students remember the order for the metric prefixes? Amy Monroe of Clifford H. Smart School in Commerce Township, Michigan, uses this phrase: "Kids Have Dropped OVER Dead Converting Metrics." The first letter of each word refers to one of the metric prefixes (kilo, hecto, etc.) and the "over" refers to the basic unit (meters, liters, or grams). Brad Loewen, a competitor in the Science Olympiad event titled Metric Estimation, used the phrase "King Henry Does Drink Chocolate Milk" to help his team finish in fourth place in the event at the state level.
Conversion Review - Metric Mania Scavenger Hunt Game
Game Cards -
Front of cards (pdf) and
Back of cards (pdf) - Print the "Metric Mania" (front of cards) on colored paper or cover stock, then print the problems on the back. I laminated my set so the cards can be used more than once and hold up to repeated use by junior high students.
Also available ... Thanks to Deborah Noles-Garcia for sharing her Metric Victims Game.
Metric System Lessons Online
AAAMath Measurement Lessons - This site provides explanations, interactive practice pages, and challenge games about measurements.
Discovery School - A Metric World - This lesson provides students with an opportunity to compare measurement units - worksheets are provided!
Dr. Math Measurement Lessons - A collection of math lessons with ideas for length and volume.
Math in Daily Life - Cooking by Numbers -
Challenge your students to use their metric skills to convert recipes from one system to the other. This site provides information as well as links to recipe collections.
Metrics Matter - A ThinkQuest Junior site exploring the metric system!
Metric Olympics - Download this PDF with ideas for the Metric Olympics!
Metric System Info - Lots of great information for any unit on the metric system!
Metric Estimation Game (Teachers.net) - A great game involving the metric system that is played like the TV Game show "The Price Is Right"!
Science Teaching Ideas - Explore the metric system section of this page for some great lessons and activities!
SMILE Math page - The first section of this page contains lesson ideas for measurement.
Teach-nology Measurement Lessons - A large collection of links (with descriptions) to sites with lessons for measurement.
TheMetricSystem.info - Visit this website for helpful hints and resources for your metric unit!
Think Metric - A great resource for information for students and teachers! The site also offers metric posters, rulers, games, and more!
US Metric Association - A wealth of information for the metric system!
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The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by
8th Grade Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL
Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences. Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.