Metric System

The Metric System is a way of measuring things that is used around the world.  It can be a bit tricky for us here is the United States, because we usually prefer the English System(which is based on inches and feet, pints and gallons, and so on).

The Metric System is a "base 10" system - which means that each unit is 10 times larger than the previous one.  There are 10 millimeters in a centimeter, 10 centimeters in a decimeter, and 10 decimeters in a meter.  (In the English system, there are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 1,760 yards in a mile!)

The Metric System uses base units to determine what type of measurement you are making.  Some common base units, and their dimensions, are:
   Meter (m) - base unit for length.
   Gram (g) - base unit for mass.
   Liter (L) - base unit for volume.
   Degree Celsius (C) - base unit for temperature.

Length is used to tell how far it is between two points.
Mass is used to tell how much material is in an object.
Volume is used to tell how much space an object takes up.
Temperature is used to tell how much heat an object has.


Each base unit can be divided into smaller units, or multiplied into larger ones.  This is always done by a factor of 10.  The new units are given names by sticking a prefix onto the base unit name.  Here is how it works:

Base Unit = Meter (m)
   10 Meters = 1 Dekameter (dkm)
   100 Meters = 1 Hectometer (hm)
   1,000 Meters = 1 Kilometer (km)

   1/10 of a Meter = 1 Decimeter (dm)
   1/100 of a Meter = 1 Centimeter (cm)
   1/1,000 of a Meter = 1 Millimeter (mm)

So, there are 1,000 millimeters in a meter because 1 millimeter is 1/1,000 of a meter. 

I will expect students to memorize the following scale:
    Kilo-   Hecto-   Deka-   Base   Deci-   Centi-   Milli-
A helpful mnemonic (memory trick) for this is:
    Kids  Hate  Drugs  Because  Drugs  Cause  Mutations

At some point, we will be covering how to convert one metric unit to another.  There is a detailed explanation of this on the attached "Scientific Method & Metric System Study Sheet."


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