Introduce students to the metric system and common conversions using this engaging, hands-on, Metric Match Game.
- Metric system
- Metric conversions
Up until the time of Napoleon, every country in the world had its own measuring system, which was often based on a body part of the ruling monarch (thus the term ruler). The units of length might have been based on the length of a king’s foot (thus the measurement of foot). Weight units might have been called stones for the number of equal size stones it took to counter-balance a king on a huge balance. Not only did every country have its own measuring system, but the system might have changed from monarch to monarch.
Napoleon used cannons and cannon shells to conquer most of Europe. He didn’t want to run his supply too thin and therefore used locally produced cannon balls and artillery supplies. Since every country had different measuring systems, he found it impossible to have the conquered countries manufacture his needed supplies. He therefore ordered his scientists back in Paris to come up with a measuring system that would be easy to understand and could be used by all people in any country he occupied. He could then have all his supplies made locally to his specifications. The system the French scientists came up with was the metric system and was based upon divisions of 10 using the same prefixes for length, mass and volume.
Most countries today still use this system for all their measurements. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) uses it so every member’s weaponry is interchangeable. As an example, a 60-millimeter artillery shell has a diameter of 60 mm. This artillery could then be used by any member country.
Why does the United States still commonly use the English system of measurement? Napoleon never conquered England. The United States was mainly developed from English heritage, so it ended up with the English measurement system. Ironically, the British and their Commonwealth countries now use the metric system of measurement, but the United States, for the most part, still holds onto the English system.
One area that does use the metric system as a standard is the field of science. The metric system is the foundation for most measurements and calculations used in all divisions of science. The Metric Match Game will introduce and help strengthen students’ knowledge of the metric system and their ability to carry out conversions between different units in the metric system. The most commonly used metric units—grams, meters and liters—will be used in this game. A table of conversion units is listed on the next page, and may be reproduced and given to students if desired.
Metric Match Game cards set A, 15 sheets*
Metric Match Game cards set B, 15 sheets*
Metric Match Teacher Answer Keys, Set A and Set B*
Zipper-type bags, 30
*Materials included in kit.
The cards may be saved and reused for future classes.
- Cut out each set of Metric Match Game cards.
- Each set of cards is printed on different colored paper, so if rectangles are found on the floor after class, the card may be placed into the correct zipper-type bag. A or B is also printed on the lower right hand corner of each card for further identification.
- Place each set into its own zipper-type bag.
- Hand out a set (in a zipper-type bag) of Metric Match Game cards to each student group. Students should not begin the activity at this time.
- Explain to students that the purpose of the game is to form a 4 by 4 rectangle (4 across and 4 down) by correctly matching up the measurement conversions on the given Metric Match Game cards.
- Every side of a rectangle that touches any other side of another rectangle must have a correct metric equivalent. For example, 1 m and 100 cm would match.
- The identical measurement on two adjacent sides cannot touch. For example, the 100 cm side of a rectangle cannot touch the 100 cm side of another rectangle.
- When ready, instruct students to begin the activity.
- There are two sets of Metric Match Game cards—Set A and Set B. Set A is an introductory level game and Set B deals with more complex conversions. It is recommended that Set A be used in the first game then Set B for a second game. Feel free to design a new set of cards with new numbers and conversions.
- The cards may be laminated to increase durability and allow for extended use.
- Place students into pairs and give each pair of students one zipper bag with 16 game pieces. There are enough bags of game pieces for 30 students working in pairs or 15 students working alone.
- Enhance the game by giving a prize or extra credit to the student group that completes the rectangle first. Instruct students to open their bags simultaneously so there is no unfair time advantage to any group.
- Students may or may not be allowed to use calculators.
- Use the given Metric Match Game Answer Keys to confirm the correct matches.
- This activity can be completed in one 50-minute class period.
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)†
Science & Engineering Practices
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Disciplinary Core Ideas
MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
Scale, proportion, and quantity
HS-PS1-1: Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
HS-PS1-2: Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
Flinn Scientific would like to thank Fran Zakutansky, Pascack Valley High School, Hillsdale, NJ, for her idea for this activity.