Can You Measure Up!

Valerie Hardy Horace Mann School
8050 S. Chappel
Chicago IL 60617


This list is for a class size of thirty, seventh grade students.
1. The students will discover the importance of standards when measuring.
2. The students will learn how to use the meter stick or meter tape.
3. The students will internalize the metric units of length by using
concrete examples.

Materials needed:

tagboard (24"x 30") pennies (10) meter sticks (5)
bag of candy (8 bars/bag) bingo chips (10) masking tape
peanuts in shell (10) rocks (10) plastic toothpicks (5)
construction papers (2 sheets) play crown (1) banana (1)
a stick (branch 20cm) robe (1) Ziplock bags (5)
toothpicks (20) documents (5) cut out a paper foot
and a paper hand


1. Set up classroom at your own discretion for first presentation (shopping
at the U.S. grocery store).

2. Students are placed in groups according to numbers chosen before class.

3. The teacher will pick one person to act as a cashier. The cashier will
be given explicit instructions:
a. Let the customers know that the store is all out of food except for
this one item.
b. Not to accept anything but the pennies for the item purchased in the

4. The groups will choose one person to represent them, he/she will go up to
the desk to pick up the following:
a. the name of their groups imaginary country
b. Ziplock bag of bartering items
c. a measuring device, a document
d. five toothpicks

5. The groups are than told what each item represents and that the whole class
will participate in four episodes of Can You Measure Up! 6. Each representative of their country is instructed to pick up bartering items and an envelope with the following instructions: a. Reminder - You are in a strange land, your country is starving. b. Seek help from your fellow countrymen for reasonable techniques you can use with your bartering items to increase your chances of purchasing the item in the U.S. grocery store. 7. Wait time provided for representatives to talk to their countrymen. 8. Students are told the plot of the episode: Four immigrants are going to the U.S. grocery store. Each one has different bartering items but they all want the same product. 9. Question given to students: - Which person will be able to buy the product and why? Now the teacher allows the students to enact the episode. The class sees the results and is then asked why did it occur? A recorder is chosen and the results are written down. 10. Students go back to their countries and are told the plot of the second episode: Each country has a document they want to ship to the U.S. The charge for shipping is two dollars per unit of length. To ship the item each country must use their own measuring device to calculate cost. Question - What problems may the countries face? Wait Time. The students are allowed to measure the length of their document with their official measuring devices. Question - What problems may the U.S. encounter in charging for the shipment of the documents? The result of the discussions are written down by recorder. 11. The teacher states - "I am still shaky on our reasoning. Let's participate in the third episode of Can You Measure Up!"
The teacher gives the plot to episode three:
"Imagine this is the year 1500. Out of all the countries we have a person
has been outstanding in helping everyone to be successful in their job."
The teacher chooses a person at random. We will use your arm as our
official measuring device. We will change our maps, signs, and other
measurements to coincide with your arm." The teacher continues, "Before
all the changes were made, a war broke out and the person who was chosen
was replaced by someone new. His arm was used as the official measuring
device." Question - What would happen to the measuring system now and why?

12. After class discussion it would be clear that standards are needed in the
measurement system. Background information would be given on the metric
system (SI), the meter, which is now the standard measure of length.

13. Episode four of Can You Measure! would be The Javelin Throw.
a. The class is already divided into four groups.
b. Each group is in a single-file line behind a designated taped line.
c. The first person for each team gets ready, with a toothpick
javelin in hand. At a signal, they spin around three times
and throw the javelin out into the open area. They may not "foul"
by crossing the taped line. All should be careful.
d. After your throw, use a meter stick to measure the distance.
e. Record your distance in meters.
f. The event continues until each person has a javelin measurement.

14. Mini lessons and measurement terms may be translated into French, i.e.
meter-metre. Other countries which have separated may be discussed to
reinforce the idea of a standard being important, i.e. New Russia.

Performance Assessment:

1. You are a teacher. Your students are having trouble with the idea that a
standard of measurement is needed. Make up a mini story to explain why
standards are needed in measurement.

2. Create a game or mathematical exercise that could be used as a review of the
meter, the basic unit of length.

Scoring Rubric:

Excellent Response.......... Rating 5
Gives a complete response to both request in the assessment. Clear
details are given; shows understanding of material taught.

Competent Response..........Rating 4
Both answers are present with reasonably clear explanation; may
include some information discussed in class.

Incomplete Response..........Rating 3
Ideas are there, but not fully developed.

Ineffective Response.........Rating 2
Shows effort by beginning with the first two sentences of the
mini story.

No Response, with reason.....Rating 1
The student leaves a blank page or writes: "I don't know."
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