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Q&A #17056


Converting metric units using mnemonic sentence/chart

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From: Tina P. <tpark44@yahoo.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Service
Date: Apr 27, 2006 at 01:02:33
Subject: Converting metric units using mnemonic sentence/chart

Hi,

I currently teach a math course for elementary education majors. As we 
discussed converting metric units of length a student said she learned 
the following mnemonic sentence to aid in remembering the metric prefixes 
and relationship to the base unit - meter:

Kangaroos   Hop    Down   My   Drive   Christmas   Morning
km          hm     dam    m    dm      cm          mm

She went on to say her grade school teacher her taught her to convert by:
1) writing out this sentence 
2) writing the ones digit of the measurement you're starting with in the 
column under that unit 
3) write any tens or greater digits each in a column to the left of your 
starting unit
4) then to convert write add zeros to the left or right our your original 
number to fill in empty columns until you reach the column of the unit 
you want to convert to.

So to convert 35 cm to m I'd write:
K   H    D   M   D   C   M
             0.  3   5

Thus, 35 cm = 0.35 m

Seems intuitive to me and I tried to present this with the student in our 
next class but there was a lot of confusion on where to put the decimal 
place. I explained the decimal always goes after the ones digit but that 
didn't seem to sink in - has anyone heard of a charting the pattern type 
method like this for teaching conversion and if so, any suggestions?

We've tried talking about moving the decimal point in the measurement 
number based on steps up or down in the metric units but that got a bunch 
of blank stares too.

I'm trying to break this down as simply as possible and am hoping someone 
has had experience with this method and can offer input/advice.

Thank you. 

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