Metric Mania Field Trip (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT predict the measurement values, accurately measure their selected items, and convert their measurements to a new unit using the metric system.

Big Idea

We all love to participate in laboratory activities, but are our students collecting accurate data? Today we will practice the basics of metric measurements around campus!

Video Introduction - Why Take The Time To Review The Metric System

1 minutes

Hook - Metric Music and Predictions

5 minutes

Students will watch the Metric Measurement Rap Video as a humorous review of the metric system.

The video discusses possible uses for each type of measurement on the metric scale.  As a follow-up to the video, students will need to determine which metric unit they will use to each of the following:

  1. The length of your arm
  2. The mass of the rat we will study in our dissection unit
  3. Distance traveled by migrating swallows (birds)
  4. The width of a human hair
  5. The mass of a human liver
  6. The volume of blood in the human body
  7. The temperature of the human body
  8. The length of the small intestine
  9. Your body mass
  10. The volume of water in Lake Tahoe

The students have two minutes to record their responses on their Bell Question Sheet.  The class will review the correct answers as a whole-class chorale response.


Direct Instruction - Measurements and Conversions . . . Oh My!

15 minutes

Students will get out a sheet of paper to transcribe the import facts presented in today's lecture notes, Rules for Metric Measurements.  This Power Point Presentation focuses on the correct unit of measurement for the metric system and provides a basic review of metric conversions between unites of measurement.  

Students should have a prior understanding of metric measurements, but it is a good idea to review at the beginning of the year to instill strong laboratory skills in your students in order to have a successful year of laboratory investigations in Biology!

Student Reflections

1 minutes

The students had a great time making their predictions of the length and mass of their objects from around our campus.  Some students were very close, with 0.5 grams or 1 cm, while other students missed the actual values by much greater!  The most valuable aspect of this activity was introducing the metric system into the everyday lives of the students.  When students are able to connect our curriculum to objects they use everyday, then the concepts we learn are no longer stuck in the Biology classroom, but they become integrated into all aspects of the students' lives!

Here is a video clip of a student group explaining their predictions vs. actual metric measurement:

Guided Practice - Metric Measurements Around Campus

25 minutes

Student lab partners will be allowed to take a 5 minute field trip around the school campus to select three objects to measure.  One object must be representative of each of the three categories of metric measurement - length, volume, and mass.  Lab partners are encouraged to find the most interesting and inspiring objects to bring back to the classroom.

Once students have returned with their three objects, they will predict the length, volume, and mass of their respective objects.  Students will use the class set of rulers, electronic balances, and graduated cylinders to measure their objects..  All of the data for this activity will be recorded on the Metric Mania – Campus Field Trip Data Sheet.

At the conclusion of the activity, each lab group will share one of their observations as to "why their original predicted measurement was different than the actual metric measurement value."  This reflective statement was to be recorded on the last line of worksheet's data table.  The whole-class discussion will highlight the many pitfalls experienced in this activity and will identify possible sources of experimental error during future lab investigations.

This partner activity is intended to be a review of the metric system, but will also provide experience and confidence for your students to make predictions of metric measurements for future laboratoractivities.



Independent Practice - Time To Get My Metric On

5 minutes

Now that students have been given the opportunity to review metric measurements with lecture notes and explored the campus to predict and measure objects of their choosing, they are ready to practice the mathematical side of this activity by beginning the Metric Conversion Practice Worksheet.

Students will work independently to convert the metric measurements into new units of measurement.  Students are encouraged to refer back to their Rules for Metric Measurements Lecture Notes for assistance.

Students will not have enough time to complete this reinforcement activity in class and will be asked to complete the remaining questions as homework.


Close - Are We Speaking The Same Language?

5 minutes

With just two minutes left in class the students are brought back from their independent work for a final check for understanding.  Students will be asked to turn their worksheet over and record their responses to the following questions:

  • When working out, do you think you are able to lift a barbell that has a mass of 1,000,000 milligrams?  What is the conversion of this mass into grams?  
  • When we are studying our photosynthesis unit, we will measure the weekly growth of seedlings in our class.  Do you think a plant that grows 0.000007km is significant?  What is the conversion of this length into millimeters?

If the students are stumped with these questions, they are encouraged to review their Lecture Notes for assistance.  After a minute, the The Metric Conversion Scale  will be revealed on the front board to ensure all students have a clear understanding of the relationship between metric units.  A quick class discussion will explain the correct conversions.

Students are reminded to complete their Metric Conversion Practice Worksheet for homework in preparations of tomorrow's Metric Measurement Boot Camp Lab.