Q&A #286

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching conversion of units of measurement

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From: Anne McMullan

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2001032811:23:50
Subject: metric conversion

Many years ago, an excellent math teacher saw me struggling to teach metric conversion in an adult upgrading class. He taught me this silly sentence to teach the order of metric prefixes. Start with length so that "make" fits "meter", then teach students to change the "make" to "gram" for mass and "liter" for volume. Students can learn to convert in an hour using this chart. You can then "go back" to teach the math which is involved". For example, when we move to the left, we are dividing; when we move to the right, we are multiplying. Kind hearted damsels make daring chess moves. km hm dam m dm cm mm 1000 100 10 1 1/10 1/100 1/1000 1000 100 10 1 0.1 0.01 0.001 Convert any metric unit by placing it under the appropriate column and "jumping" to the column of the unit you wish to convert to. Multiply by moving to the right: so 6.33 dam = 6330 cm because I had to move the decimal 3 places to the right. 40 km =40000 m because I had to move the decimal 3 places to the right Divide by moving to the left: 16.50 mm equals 0.01650 m because I moved 3 places to the left. I have searched the internet in vain to find a similar device. I would appreciate any further teaching on the conversion of metric units..especially as applied to calculation of drug dosages.

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