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Metric System


  Did you ever wonder why you have to learn two systems of measurement when all the other kids in the world need to learn only one? Come along on a journey through the metric system and see how easy it is to "Go Metric!"
  For over two hundred years, our country's leaders have tried to convince adult Americans to "Go Metric!", but they have failed. The Department of Education has just formed a special committee to recruit middle school students, who are known to be much more receptive to new ideas than adults are, to help get the U.S. on track to be totally metric by the end of the year.

A critical part of the committee's plan is to send every seventh grader in the country a postcard with interesting information about the metric system. These students will share the postcard with older and younger friends who will pass the information along to their friends and family members. In a matter of a few days, the entire nation will be converted.

It may sound like an impossible task, but the committee has searched the entire nation and has found exactly the right group of students to pull it off.

You guessed it! Your task is to design that postcard, and your quest is about to begin.
  1. Get a "Been There, Done That" (BTDT) worksheet, an Information Organizer, and a pencil.

2. Visit each of the web sites on the Resources Page and collect interesting facts about the history and advantages of the metric system.

3. As you visit each site, answer the "BTDT" question.

4. Make a rough draft of your postcard. The postcard must include the following:

a. An explanation of the purpose of the postcard
b. A colorful picture and a catchy slogan or title
c. At least two historical facts about the metric system
d. At least two advantages of the metric system
e. Information about how the change to the metric system was
accomplished in at least one other country

5. Create your final postcard.

a. You may use posterboard, construction paper, tagboard, plain
paper, colored pens, pencils, markers, etc. Use your imagination
but keep it neat and easy to read.

b. You may write and/or draw on both sides.

c. Write the name and address of the recipient.

d. Design a stamp and draw it on your postcard.

d. The final postcard must be exactly 20 cm by 12 cm - - no larger,
no smaller.

6. Evaluate your postcard using the "Go Metric" rubric on the Evaluation Page.

7. Turn in your postcard, BTDT Questions and Answers, Information Organizer, and Go Metric Rubric for a grade.

8. Check out on the Conclusion Page.
  Visit each Internet resource BEFORE you begin your postcard.

You may answer the BTDT (Been There, Done That) questions on this worksheet in any order. On separate paper, take notes to use for your postcard. The best sites for note-taking are starred.

1. Taking America's Measure - Learn about the metric system in international sports. Check out the recipe for metric chocolate chip cookies. Visit "Snap Shots in Time" to find out why national standards for measurement are so important.

BTDT Question: How high is a ten-meter diving board?
(Hint: Click on "Metric Fast Facts for Sports")

2. Metric Usage in Other Countries - Find out interesting facts about the history of the metric system in other countries.

BTDT Question: Which Caribbean country has "Metric, 10 Times Better" as its metrication slogan?

3. Metric Prefixes - Learn the prefixes for really big and really small metric measurement.

BTDT Question: Which is longer, a petameter or a yottameter?

4. Just for Fun - Laugh at some silly prefixes. This web site is for those who enjoy bad puns.

BTDT Question: What is your favorite pun?

5. Metric History - Scroll down for a history of previous attempts to change over to metric measurement in the U.S.

BTDT Question: What is the only industrial country that doesn't use metric measurement?

6. World Wide Metric - Use this web site to convert between the U.S. system and metric system.

BTDT Question: What is your height in the customary (U.S.) system and in the metric system? (Hint: Convert your height from feet and inches to inches first.)

7. Metric Definitions - Find out information about the history of the metric system and how common measuring units are defined.

BTDT Question: How was the meter originally defined?

8. Figure This Challenge #34 - How fast can Flo-Jo go?

BTDT Question: Is it possible for a runner to pass a car going 15 miles per hour in a school zone?

9. Figure This Challenge #67 - Temperature Brain Teaser

BTDT Question: Do you need to wear a jacket when it is 35 degrees Celsius?

10. Animal Weigh-In - Have fun converting measures. Come back and play the other math games at this site when you have extra time.

BTDT Question: How many pounds does a "stone" weigh? (Hint: Click on "Key Ideas" and scroll down to the Non-Metric section.)
  Use the scoring guide to evaluate your postcard.
  Post your postcard on the bulletin board. Comment using a post it note on someone else's.

This Web Quest is available at