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Appropriate Tools for Metric Measurement

Understand which tools to use when measuring metric length, mass and volume.

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Appropriate Tools for Metric Measurement

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Yvegenia is measuring items around her classroom. She decides to measure a pencil. She has access to a ruler, a meter stick and metric tape. Which tool should she use to find the length of the pencil?

In this concept, you will learn how to use appropriate tools for metric measurement.

Metric Measuring Tools

Some metric units for measuring length are millimeters, centimeters, meters and kilometers. Millimeters and centimeters are found on a ruler. There is a meter stick that measures 1 meter. A metric tape measure can be used to measure multiple meters. If you wanted to measure long distances, you could use a kilometer odometer.

A tool is designed to make measuring simpler. Choosing a tool that isn’t the best choice can make measuring very challenging. Let’s think about tools and when you should use them depending on what and/or where you are measuring.

Here are some general suggestions:

If the object is very tiny, use a ruler for millimeters.

If the object is less than 30 cm use a ruler for centimeters.

If the object is between 30 cm and 2 or so meters use a meter stick.

If the object is greater than a few meters, use a metric tape measure.

If the object is a long distance, for instance across town, use a kilometer odometer.

Let's look at an example.

How should a road race be measured?

A road race is usually a significant distance, so use a kilometer odometer to measure it.

Examples

Example 1

Earlier, you were given a problem about Yvegenia and the pencil.

What tool should Yvegenia use to measure the pencil?

First, think about the general measure of a pencil. Is it a very small, medium or large measurement?

Very small

Then, select a tool.

A ruler

The answer is a ruler. Yvegenia should use a ruler to measure the pencil.

Example 2

Choose an appropriate tool for the following measurement situation.

What tool should be used to measure a paper clip?

First, think about the general measure of a paper clip. Is it a very small, medium or large measurement?

A very small

Then, select a tool.

A ruler

The answer is a ruler.

Example 3

Choose an appropriate tool for the following measurement situation.

The width of a table.

First, think about the general measure of a table. Is it a very small, medium or large measurement?

Medium

Then, select a tool.

A meter stick

The answer is a meter stick.

Example 4

Choose an appropriate tool for the following measurement situation.

The distance from one city to another city. 

First, think about the general measure between cities. Is it a very small, medium or large measurement?

Large

Then, select a tool.

A kilometer odometer


The answer is a kilometer odometer.

Example 5

Choose an appropriate tool for the following measurement situation.

The length of an ant.

First, think about the general measurement of an ant. Is it a very small, medium or large measurement?

Very small

Then, select a tool.

A ruler

The answer is a ruler.

Review

Choose the best tool to measure each item. Use a ruler, meter stick, metric tape or kilometric odometer.

  1. A paperclip
  2. The width of a dime
  3. A tall floor lamp
  4. The width of a room
  5. A road race from start to finish
  6. The wing span of a butterfly
  7. The wing span of an eagle
  8. A shoe size
  9. The width of a window
  10. The floor space of a tent
  11. The distance from the bottom of a mountain to the top
  12. The perimeter of a garden
  13. The area of a garden
  14. The distance from one city to another
  15. The size of a fingernail

Review (Answers) 

To see the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 3.7. 

Resources

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Vocabulary

Centimeter

A centimeter is a very small unit of metric measure. A centimeter is one hundredth of one meter.

Kilometer

A kilometer is a common metric unit of length that is equal to 1,000 meters.

Length

Length is a measurement of how long something is. Examples of customary units of length are inches, feet, yards and miles.

Meter

A meter is a common metric unit of length that is slightly larger than a yard.

Metric System

The metric system is a system of measurement commonly used outside of the United States. It contains units such as meters, liters, and grams, all in multiples of ten.

Millimeter

A millimeter is the smallest common metric unit of length.

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  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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