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Metric Unit Conversions

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I Ran a What?

 I Ran a What?

Credit: SD Dirk
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dirkhansen/6998470809/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The runners line up, their feet in the starting blocks. The starter fires a pistol and they’re off. Less than ten seconds later, the first competitor crosses the finish line – the winner. Another successful 100 meter race. Or was it 100 yards? Hmm..let me check on that.

News You Can Use

  • The conversion to the metric system has been a slow and uneven process. In science labs, there has been no problem since the metric system is so much easier to work with. In the everyday world, it’s been a different story. We buy our lumber by the foot and the strange “not-quite” width (a 2 \times 4 is not two inches by four inches thick, but actually 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches after drying and planning). Milk comes in quart, half-gallon, and gallon sizes while soft drinks are measured in ounces if in a can, but in liters when sold in large plastic bottles.
  • The U.S. sportsworld is no more consistent. Track events were formerly all run using British units. In 1976, a conversion was made to the metric system so that information would be comparable for Olympic competition purposes. However, the mile run is still popular. Marathon events are still described in miles in many places. Races longer than dashes are increasingly measured in kilometers. It is very common to hear runners talk about doing a 5k or an 8k event.
  • Credit: PhotoWolfe.com
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photowolfe/5307895703/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    5K races have become very popular events. Many are done for fundraising purposes. Some are purely social events [Figure2]

     

  • Two very American sports that are holdouts are American football and NASCAR racing. We have not seen any move by the National Football Leagueor any of the colleges to switch to the metric system. For the foreseeable future, “first and ten” will still refer to first down and ten yards to go. NASCAR also does not appear to be open to change any time in the near future. And then there is horse racing, where distances are still measured in miles and in furlongs (roughly one-eighth of a mile).
  • Watch a video of a record-breaking 100 meter dash at the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRxs379Vq_k

Show What You Know

Use the links below to learn more about metric and Imperial comparisons. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How many yards are in a 100 meter race?
  2. What is the most popular middle distance race and how far is it in kilometers?
  3. What is the longest NASCAR track? the shortest?
  4. Try out the volume conversion game at the following link: http://www.aaamath.com/g413_ux1.htm

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: SD Dirk; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dirkhansen/6998470809/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: PhotoWolfe.com; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photowolfe/5307895703/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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