Measuring Skills: Length

23 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT measure length using metric units and tools.

Big Idea

Measuring is a necessary skill and it is important that scientists around the world accurately use the same measurement system.

Bell Ringer - Building Vocabulary

5 minutes

What words can you think of that have the root word "meter" in them?

I start class with a question that will get students thinking about the lesson. It's best practice.

I give them 1-2 minutes to record their answer to the question in their science journal. They can write words, draw pictures, create a bubble map, or write questions. I supply options for students because they process information in different ways. These options give a differentiated learning experience to ELL and Special Education students.

I want students to discuss with each other so I ask them to turn and talk with their partner for 1 minute to share answers. Giving them time to think and process provides opportunity for students to Think-Pair-Share

I involved in the discussion by using popsicle sticks which have student names on them. I pull names, ask them to give answers to the question, and record the answers on the board (whiteboard, SMARTBoard, chalk board). This gives all students a chance to visualize other's thoughts. I am looking for answers like: centimeter, kilometer, millimeter, speedometer, thermometer, and anemometer.

The Measuring Activity

30 minutes

Scientists need tools to do science and measuring is one way they do that. Measuring brings math and science together. Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking is a core concept in the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices.  Students need to know how to measure accurately (MP6 attend to precision) in order to share data and information with other scientist and metric is the "language" of science.

I'm going to model how to measure the length (MP5 use appropriate tools strategically) of an object before I have students complete the activity sheet. Modeling is essential for learning because students learn by seeing and by doing.

You can model this using any object, for example, an index card. I put the index card and metric ruler under the document camera (or show in small groups if you don't have a document camera) and explain centimeters and millimeters. I measure the index card and record the answer. 

Next, I have students work in small groups as they measure items on the Metric Measuring Activity sheet. I have found that when students work together to measure, they learn from each other as they help each other use the tools to find the answer. 

Teacher Tip: You can edit the activity sheet and have students measure a variety of items. Students could measure longer items such as a door or table using a meter stick.

Let's Review

5 minutes

What increments (parts) are on a meter stick?

It is valuable to take the time to review at the end of the lesson. So, at this point I ask my students: What increments (parts) are on a meter stick? I am looking for answers like: millimeters, centimeters.

To build on their vocabulary, ask students the meaning of the root word "centi." Remind them that "centi" means one hundred, like there are one hundred years in a century (show and say the word) or one hundred "cents" in a dollar.

I ask, What could I measure with a meter stick verses a metric ruler? Here is where I want students to conceptualize the difference between these tools. I am looking for answers like: I need a meter stick to measure a door, the length of a car, or a football field. I would use a metric ruler to measure a book, a piece of paper, or my pencil.