In science, students learn how to measure using the metric system. The metric system uses meters, grams, and liters, which is different from the imperial system. In the United States, this can be confusing because upper elementary students are taught the standard system using inches, feet, cups, and pounds.
In science, students start learning about meters, grams, and liters. In many aspects, this universal system used by scientists all over the world is easier to navigate.
However, once students can separate the two systems, they will learn that the metric system is devised on a base 10 unit. This allows us to work with decimals rather than fractions which I think we can all agree is MUCH easier.
Teaching the Metric System
Practice, practice, practice.
This is the best way to orient students in learning about metric measurement. Typically, I teach students to use the centimeter ruler, Graduated cylinder, and triple beam balance.
Sign up as part of my science squad to access Nearpod links with my students. Using Nearpod is a great way to engage your students. It allows you to reach all types of learners, and you can use the presentations as self-paced or a whole class activity while teaching about the metric system.
Teach the Metric System: Centimeter Ruler
- the metric ruler,
- how to determine which side of the ruler to use,
- how to measure, and
- what unit to use when using it.
After teaching students how to use the metric ruler, give them time to practice. Ideally, each student would have their ruler to use, but pair them up or have them work in small groups if you are short on rulers.
Students can measure
- objects around the classroom or
- lines on paper.
Students will benefit from hands-on practice, allowing you to informally assess their ability to measure while you navigate the classroom.
Teach the Metric System: Graduated Cylinder
If you are using the Nearpod presentations to teach your students about the metric system, some videos show students handling the Graduated cylinder and reading the meniscus. This is very important as most students have never heard of this term.
Again, after introducing this metric measurement tool to your students, you’ll want to allow them to practice measuring independently.
Let students work in small groups to practice reading the Graduated cylinder from the meniscus.
Teacher tip: fill beakers with water, and add some food coloring so once the colored water is poured into the Graduated cylinder, students will have an easier time reading it.
Teach the Metric System: Triple Beam Balance
When learning about the metric measurement tool, the triple beam balance, students will need to know the parts of the science tool to correctly measure mass.
It is helpful to demonstrate using the triple beam balance in front of the entire class.
Afterward, allow students to use the triple beam balance in the classroom. They can measure the mass of things such as a
- pen or pencil,
- eraser, etc.
Hands on Metric Measurement Activities
One of the perks of this unit is that it has to be hands-on for students to truly learn how to measure the mass, length, or volume of an object. Students love hands-on activities, so it’s a win in the area of engagement.
Have you tried creating a Metric Olympics for your students?
Students participate in seven different events to demonstrate their knowledge of
- volume, and
It uses everyday classroom materials to get students up and moving as they practice measuring using the
- triple beam balance,
- graduated cylinder, and
- centimeter ruler.
Kids really love participating in the events. You’ll love watching them get excited as they try to compete with one another in the different events.
Need help in keeping the metric units, metric tools, and measurements in order?
In addition to the Nearpod links for the metric ruler, graduated cylinder, and triple beam balance, this graphic organizer is designed to give students all the information in one easy place to review metric measurements.
This sheet is also great to review for a test or quiz.
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