More Metrics #36

(grades 6-10)
Soft-bound, 80 page book, 20 reproducible activity sheets, full teaching notes.

Book Cover: Enlarge

sample book cover

Sample Activity: View

How much is a hectoliter? Who cares? This book teaches only those metric units that are important - meters, grams and liters - plus 6 useful derivatives. Play Metric Rummy. Build an amazingly sensitive straw balance sensitive to just 1 milligram. Learn to estimate to the last uncertain digit for measuring accuracy.

Download a preview of this book.

And click any tab below to learn MORE about this book.

More Metrics E-Book

Downloadable PDF (9.9MB)

Save money and time by downloading this title and printing out only the pages you need.


  • free activity
  • book content
  • get materials
  • teaching tips
  • objectives
  • standards

Table of Contents for #36 More Metrics:

Preparation and Support

Getting It Together -- Materials • Sequencing Activities • Building an Effective Science Teaching Strategy • Diary of a Teacher • Long Range Objectives • Gaining a Whole Perspective

Activities and Lesson Notes

  1. 1. Milli, Centi, Deci & More
  2. 2. Kilometer Rule
  3. 3. Metric Squares
  4. 4. Face-Up
  5. 5. Metric Rummy
  6. 6. The Last Digit
  7. 7. Certain and Uncertain
  8. 8. A Second Look
  9. 9. Dial A Measure
  10. 10. Agree / Disagree
  11. 11. Line Measure
  12. 12. Meter Measure
  13. 13. Body Measure
  14. 14. Build a Microbalance
  15. 15. Seeds and Such
  16. 16. Milligram Masses
  17. 17. Seed Graphs
  18. 18. Water Domes
  19. 19. Metric Drips
  20. 20. Consumer Science


Complete Master List for #36 More Metrics:

Key: (1st/2nd/3rd) denote needed quantities: (1st) enough for 1 student doing all activities; (2nd) enough for 30 students working in 10 lab groups all self-paced; (3rd) enough for 30 students working in 10 lab groups, all doing the same lesson. Starred* items may be purchased below.

  1. 1/30/30: sheets of lined notebook paper
  2. 1/20/30: scissors
  3. * 1/30/30: wooden spring-action clothespins
  4. * 1/1/1: roll masking tape
  5. * 1/1/1: box paper clips
  6. 1/30/30: soda pop cans
  7. * 1/10/10: rolls clear tape
  8. * 1/1/1: spool thread
  9. 2/50/60: pennies
  10. 2/50/60: index cards, 3x5 inch

  11. 1/1/1: piece of butcher paper for marking body measurements against a wall (optional)
  12. * 4/150/150: plastic soda straws
  13. * 2/60/60: straight pins
  14. 1/1/1: packages each of pinto beans, popcorn, lentils, long-grained white rice
  15. 1/20/30: staples
  16. 3/90/90: disposable cups, paper or styrofoam, 6 ounces or more
  17. 1/1/1: water source
  18. 1/4/10: teaspoons with approximate standard measuring capacity
  19. * 1/1/1: sheet aluminum foil
  20. 1/1/1: bottle plain uncoated aspirin, 5 grain tablets
  21. several: packages of candy, nuts, raisins or other treat with uniform small mass

Convenient Shopping:

Aluminum Foil

regular strength, 20 square feet x 12 inches rolls

Buy aluminum foil here as a convenience item, or for less in many grocery stores.


wooden, spring-action

These are handy lab items to keep in stock. We use them as bulb holders, tongs, clips, and more.

Paper Clips

size #1, steel, box of 100

Paper clips have 1001 uses in TOPS experiments, and science in general. Feel free to use paper clips you already have, but be aware that different brands come in different sizes and weights. In experiments where uniformity is important, don't mix brands.

Straight Pins

steel, one and 1/16 inch long

Used in many TOPS experiments. Sometimes required for their magnetic properties. Don't purchase aluminum straight pins by mistake.

Straws - straight

plastic, thin

Any length straw, between 0.20 and 0.25 inches in diameter is suitable. Grocery stores generally carry straws with flexible "elbows." You can use those if you cut off the bendable section before using.

Tape - clear

3/4 inch x 1000 inch roll

Your standard desk tape with matte write-on surface.

Tape - masking

3/4 inch x 55 yd roll

A handy science supply used in most TOPS modules.


light duty, 25 yd spool

Just plain old thread. Used in many TOPS titles, especially in Pendulums #34.

Teaching Tips for #36 More Metrics:

We encourage improvisation - it's one of the main goals of our hands-on approach! You and your students might invent a simpler, sturdier or more accurate system; might ask a better question; might design a better extension. Hooray for ingenuity! When this occurs, we'd love to hear about it and share it with other educators. Please send ideas and photos to

Lesson by Lesson Objectives for #36 More Metrics:

  1. Lesson 1: To understand metric prefixes as simple multiples of ten. To estimate numbers by comparing lengths.
  2. Lesson 2: To visualize how metric units fit together as multiples of 10. To practice expressing one measure in terms of another.
  3. Lesson 3: To become familiar with 42 important interrelated facts about metric volume, mass and length.
  4. Lesson 4: To firmly link metric units with common conversion factors and concrete images.
  5. Lesson 5: To memorize metric relationships in a fun way.
  6. Lesson 6: To learn how to read a ruler accurately, estimating the last digit.
  7. Lesson 7: To distinguish between certain figures and uncertain figures. To appreciate that no measurement is exact.
  8. Lesson 8: To practice estimating between centimeter intervals. To check your accuracy with a millimeter scale.
  9. Lesson 9: To accurately locate millimeters, centimeters, and meters with a hairline on a metric scale.
  10. Lesson 10: To agree with a friend, within acceptable limits of uncertainty, where the hairline crosses a scale.
  11. Lesson 11: To practice measuring accurately with a ruler. To recognize that estimating is necessary no matter how accurate the ruler.
  12. Lesson 12: To practice measuring physical objects with a meter tape. To estimate the last digit.
  13. Lesson 13: To discover basic body proportions by making accurate measurements with a meter tape. To appreciate that body measure is not standard.
  14. Lesson 14: To improvise a single-arm balance beam, accurate to a milligram.
  15. Lesson 15: To learn to operate a microbalance. To compare the masses of small objects, ordering them from highest to heaviest.
  16. Lesson 16: To make a set of milligram weights for the microbalance. To use them to find the masses of small objects.
  17. Lesson 17: To graph how the mass of seeds increases in direct proportion to their numbers. To learn to draw and interpret graphs.
  18. Lesson 18: To construct a dripper that dispenses uniform water drops. To confirm that a teaspoon holds 5 mL of liquid.
  19. Lesson 19: To find the mass of a uniform water drop. To compare the volume of water a penny can hold with the volume contained in a centimeter cube.
  20. Lesson 20: To use a microbalance to determine if aspirin tablets are 100% pure. To estimate total quantity based on the mass of a few.

National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996) for #36 More Metrics:

TEACHING Standards

These 20 activity sheets promote excellence in science teaching by these NSES criteria:
Teachers of science...
A: ...plan an inquiry-based science program. (p. 30)
B: and facilitate learning. (p. 32)
C: ...engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. (p. 37)
D: and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. (p. 43)

CONTENT Standards

These 20 activity sheets contain fundamental content as defined by these NSES guidelines (p. 109).
• Represent a central event or phenomenon in the natural world.
• Represent a central scientific idea and organizing principle.
• Have rich explanatory power.
• Guide fruitful investigations.
• Apply to situations and contexts common to everyday experiences.
• Can be linked to meaningful learning experiences.
• Are developmentally appropriate for students at the grade level specified.

Unifying Concepts and Processes

NSES Framework: Systems, order, and organization • Evidence, models and explanation • Constancy, change, and measurement
Core Concepts/Processes: Reach easy familiarity with commonly used metric units - meters, grams and liters - plus six commonly used derivatives. • Visualize how metric units would all fit together on a giant kilometer ruler.

Science as Inquiry (content standard A)

NSES Framework: Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. • Design and conduct a scientific investigation. • Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. • Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations. • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions. • Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. • Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
Core Inquiries: Learn to measure accurately by recording all certain figures, plus one uncertain figure. • Read scales independently and compare significant figures.

Physical Science (content standard B)

NSES Framework: Properties of objects and materials
Core Content: Objects have properties of length, area, volume, and mass that may be accurately measured but never exactly known.

Science and Technology (content standard E)

NSES Framework: Abilities of technological design • Understanding about science and technology
Core Content: Construct a microbalance using a drinking straw. Cut paper squares to weigh small objects in micrograms.