Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas
Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas

Teaching the Metric System by MJ Krech
Teaching the Metric System by MJ Krech
The Teaching the Metric System Packet is available here. Click here to see the Table of Contents. This Packet contains over 100 pages of ready-to-run materials covering the Metric System, Metric Conversion, and Measurement Proficiency. The Packet includes everything you need, including detailed lesson plans, bellwork, worksheets, labs, tests & quizzes, manipulatives, PowerPoints, and colored paper Team Game pieces. Includes PowerPoints on Density, Metric Conversion, and Measurement. Can be purchased as a Download or a CD.  Several items from this Packet are also available below at NO CHARGE!
You are welcome to use these ideas in your classroom, within your science department, within your school district, or to distribute to any teacher who may find these lessons useful. I only ask that:
1. You cannot sell these lessons or make a profit on them in any way.
2. You cite the lessons original source, and do not white-out the copyright footer on the pdf files
3. Do not copy and paste lessons onto your website. A link to the original is to be used.
4. Do not claim these lessons as your own work.
NOTE: This disclaimer is modeled after a couple of my favorite websites: The Science Spot and Middle School Science. Thanks, teachers!

Rotting Fruit Lab

My all-time favorite lab!

Not really "metric" but a good observational exercise.

I used to do this with 6th graders. It was the highlight of each week for the entire school year. Great ongoing lesson if you have 3 or more months ahead of you. Have every student bring a CLEAN plastic jar with a tight seal from home. Peanut Butter Jars are perfect. Glass is NOT recommended. Each student also brings one piece of FRESH fruit which is put in the jar. Once a week for the rest of the school year, draw what you see and then list all observable changes! By the end of the year, students have a flip-book of the rotting process. I require 10 observations the first time, which helps them improve their observational skills! Of course, allow the brave ones to open their jar to smell the "rotten smell," if they ask! At the end of the year, have groups share the differences between rotting procedures of different fruits. Why did some rot slower than others? Do all bananas rot the same? My students would rush in from recess on Fridays to grab their fruit jars and start observing. Great fun! Click here.

Metric Conversion Lecture
and Worksheets

Lecture and worksheets for converting within the metric system. (I personally don't believe in converting between systems. If you want to get your students familiar with the metric system, use metric exclusively all year! Click here for a good lecture from Middle School Science. Click here for a worksheet from Middle School Science. Click here for a couple of good worksheets from Science Spot.

Cool to Rule Game

Students estimate the length (or volume, etc.) of several items in classroom, then measure actual items. Click here for a simplified version.

Fun with Metric Worksheets Have your students measure items within the classroom, including smiles, feet, desk tops, etc. Then have them convert to millimeters and/or meters.
Metric White Board Game Dictate metric conversion problems. One member of each small group writes the problem on the white board and all group members help solve the problem without letting the other groups see their board. Hold up when teacher asks for them. I count down, "Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Show me the answer!" Each correct answer gets a point. Called Show Me the Answer here in Missouri!

"King Henry" Mnemonic Display

Prepare a colorful display for the front of the classroom. I leave mine up all year as a helper for students who need it. Other students use a King Henry "Slider" I run off for them and paste on a piece of tag board. Still others copy down all this information on a 3x5 card. I allow students to choose the method that works for them. Many students graduate to just writing khdudcm on their quizzes before doing the metric conversion problems. 

King Henry Died Unexpectedly Drinking Chocolate Milk

Metric Mania

Great practice using the metric system! Click here for entire lesson from Science Spot. Includes great Metric Mania Scavenger Game!

Metric Estimation Game

Click here for a good game from Science Spot.

Mini-Metric Olympics

Click here to download a pdf file with great graphics and the entire mini-metric Olympics lesson plan.
NOTE: Now for sale for $3.00 by AIMS Education Foundation.

Metric Conversion Relay Race Divide a transparency or an area on the chalkboard in half. Put the same problem on each half. Divide students into two teams. Line them up in team rows, either standing or sitting. First two players race to problems, work them out. First one done (& correct) gets two points for team. If second team gets it right, one point. Players go to back of line. Repeat with a new problem each time until set points reached or time limit reached.
Measurement Lab

Click here for a good lab that offers experience in measuring the basics, like mass and weight and volume, and then has the students calculate the density of each object. Click here for Find Someone Who which reviews instruments and units in an active learning way. 

Scientific Equipment Flashcard Game Have pairs cut out copies of scientific equipment flashcards, either photos or sketches. Place both sets of cards in front of the pair. Then say, "Put your finger on the balance." Or, "Put your finger on the equipment you would use to measure mass." Or, "Put your finger on the instrument that have grams for the unit." They can use both pointing fingers, so one of the pair could get both of the eye wash flashcards. When they are down to just a couple flash cards left, have them count their piles and shake hands with the winner. I use this game right before their big measurement practicum. Helps them remember to use the balance for mass (g) and the spring scale for weight (N).
Understanding the Relationship between Mass and Weight About the best way I know to teach that weight and mass are related. Both Newtons and Grams are used: Great if you also teach the Work formula (Work = N times m.) Essentially, have small groups measure the mass (using a balance) and weight (using a Newtons-only spring scale - tape over grams if you have to) for several classroom objects, such as glue bottle, rock, test tube holder, eraser, etc. Provide string for attaching rocks to spring scales. In order for this to work, they have to try to be very accurate. You could do a quick reminder at the beginning about calibrating each instrument. Then make a class chart on the board or overhead of each group's data. Calculate the mean data for all. At this point, you hope they can begin to see a pattern, especially if you as teacher, do some judicious rounding. Challenge students to find a relationship between the mass and weight of an object. You are working toward the conversion factor: 1 gram = 100 Newtons. They will usually see that if you slide the decimal of grams two to the right, you will have the Newtons. If not, suggest this to the class. But, first try to have them arrive at the conversion factor on their own. This may require that they put their heads together in small groups. Don't be too quick here! Let them puzzle it out. Walk around between groups. Offer hints and suggestions. Once the factor is determined, run a quick white board game. Give them the mass of an object and have them convert to Newtons. and vice versa. Be sure you are also emphasizing that mass never changes, but weight changes as the amount of gravitational force changes!
Teaching Scientific Notation

I teach my students to use a calculator to calculate the answers. Click here for instructions for using the calculator. Click here for a practice worksheet. Click here for a second worksheet. Click here for a third worksheet.

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Created by MJKrech