High School SMILE Meeting
1997-98 -- 05-06 Academic Years
The Metric System

15 September 1998: Ann Brandon [Joliet West HS]
She brought in labels from a soda bottle sold in Australia. They indicated not calories, or even kilo-calories, but kilo-Joules. It was commented by the audience that Calories are a nice even standard 1-11 versus "some-thing that is not an even integer"

01 May 2001 Lee Slick (Morgan Park HS) Handout:  English Units (only for non-metric die-hards!)
gave the following information about English units in excruciating detail:

1 league = 3 miles 1 nautical mile = 1.154 miles 1 Roman mile = 0.949 miles
1 mile = 8 furlongs 1 furlong = 10 chains 1 chain = 4 rods
1 mile = 5280 feet 1 foot = 12 inches 1 cubit = 18 inches

2 mouthfuls = 1 jigger 2 jills = 1 cup  2 quarts = 1 pottle 2 pails = 1 peck
2 jiggers = 1 jack 2 cups = 1 pint 2 pottles = 1 gallon 2 pecks = 1 bushel
2 jacks = 1 jill 2 pints = 1 quart 2 gallons = 1 pail  ... etc ...

20 September 2005: Ann Brandon (Joliet Central HS physics, retired)            Testing the Royal Inch
recently visited American Science and Surplus, and called our attention to their 20% off Teachers' Appreciation Day sale, Saturday, September 24. She earlier had bought a Vernier caliper with an electronic digital display there. She had each of us use it to measure the distance from the first to the second knuckle in our left index fingers to see how close our class was to this classical definition of an inch. We obtained the following set of 24 measurements, in millimeters, arranged in decreasing magnitude:

33.6 33.0 32.6 31.9
31.9 31.7 31.1 30.4
30.4 30.2 30.1 30.1
29.9 29.9 29.8 29.6
29.4 29.4 29.3 29.2
28.7 28.5 28.0 26.9
The average is 30.3 mm, with a range of 26.9 mm - 33.6 mm. When the largest and smallest four values were removed from the data, the range is  from 29.2 mm to 31.9 mm. Using half of this range to estimate the standard deviation, we get 1.4 mm; in other words 30.3 ± 1.4 mm. One inch is 25.4 mm, so we seem to be about 20% larger than the medieval measure.  For details see the web page Anglo-Saxon Weights and Measureshttp://users.aol.com/jackproot/met/spvolas.html and Medieval Weights and Measureshttp://www.answers.com/topic/medieval-weights-and-measures.

13 December 2005: Marva Anyanwu [Wendell Green School, science]            Teaching the Metric System
Marva asked us to write down in proper format the expressions for three hundred millimeters [300 mm] and thirty-six kilograms [36 kg] on a sheet. Then she gave us each a list of eight questions to answer, as well as an answer sheet. Here are the questions and answers about the metric system [http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/#metric]:

  1. Q: What is the official name of the modern metric system and what is its abbreviation?
    A: The official name is International System of Units. Its abbreviation is SI (Système Internationale d'Unités).
  2. Q: How many basic units are there in the metric system? What are they?
    A: The metric system consists of seven base units: meter (m), kilogram (kg), second (s), Kelvin (K), Ampère (A), mole (mol), and candela (cd).
  3. Q: Which metric units are preferred for expressing clothing and body units?
    A: The centimeter (cm) is preferred for measuring clothing and body measurements.
  4. Q: What is the difference between temperatures in degrees Celsius and Kelvin?
    A: The degree Celsius is meant for ordinary temperatures (with 0oC as the freezing temperature of water and 100 oC as the boiling temperature of water at sea level). The Kelvin scale is a scientific scale for temperatures above absolute zero ( 0 K is about - 273 oC).
  5. Q: Which is larger, a quart or a liter ... and how many milliliters large is it?
    A: A liter is larger than a quart. It contains 54 milliliters (mL ) more than a quart. A liter contains 1000 mL. A quart contains 946 ml.
  6. Q: Which metric system prefix means one-millionth?
    A: The metric system prefix for one-millionth is micro.
  7. Q: What is the difference between mass and weight?
    A: Mass is the quantity of matter, measured in kilograms (kg). In everyday language, mass is usually called "weight", as in "my weight is 68 kg" or "I weigh 68 kg". However, in correct scientific language, the word weight is reserved for the force of gravity, which is measured in Newtons (N). [It is more correct, technically, to state "my mass is 68 kg". However, in everyday life, the word "weight" is used.]
  8. Q: What are the short forms for metric units called?
    A: The short forms for metric units are called symbols. [It is not correct to call them abbreviations.]
We discussed the questions and answers for a few minutes.  Porter made these comments about everyday life in a metric country, based upon his two years of experience living in The Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s:

24 January 2006: Marva Anyanwu (Wendell Green Elementary School)            Measure your metric knowledge and What is your nano IQ?
Marva handed out a crossword puzzle relating to the metric system, along with some clues and the solution.  In addition, she distributed the quiz What's Your Nano IQ?, which appears on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) web site:  http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/nanotechquiz.htm. You can take the quiz and determine your Nano-IQ, with the following scale:

Number Correct Rating
0 - 3 Nano Novice
4 - 6 Nano Nerd
7 - 10 Nano Genius
These are two very interesting nano-assignments for us and our students.  Thanks, Marva.