# Activity: Unit Conversion

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1 Drexel-SDP GK-12 ACTIVITY Activity: Unit Conversion Subject Area(s) Measurement, Problem solving Associated Unit Measurement, module 2 Associated Lesson Activity Title Grade Level 6 (3-8) embedded Unit Conversion Activity Dependency None Time Required Group Size minutes Expendable Cost per Group Summary None Unit conversion is typically a difficult skill for sixth grade students to develop. Unit conversion utilizing the factor-label method and dimensional analysis helps to avoid confusion during the multiplication and division process. Engineering Connection Suppose an engineer draws out a design for a new microscope. She uses the English units of inches in her drawing. Now, the microscope is to be manufactured in Europe, where the metric system is used. What is she to do to have her design understood and manufactured overseas? She must convert the English units of inches to the metric units of centimeters. Keywords Measurement, units, conversion Educational Standards

2 Pennsylvania Standards Unifying Themes D. Explain scale as a way of relating concepts and ideas to one another by some measure. 2.3 Measurement and Estimation 2.3.B. Convert linear measurements within the same system. Pre-Requisite Knowledge Be familiar with English units of linear measurement (inches, feet) versus the metric units of linear measurement (centimeters, meters). Learning Objectives Students will be able to convert units of money, length, and volume using the factor-label method. Students will understand equalities and ratios = 1. Materials List Worksheet(s) Introduction / Motivation Suppose an engineer draws out a design for a new microscope. She uses the English units of inches in her drawing. Now, the microscope is to be manufactured in Europe, where the metric system is used. What is she to do to have her design understood and manufactured overseas? She must convert the English units of inches to the metric units of centimeters. (Unit conversion is typically a difficult skill for sixth grade students to develop. Unit conversion utilizing the factor-label method and dimensional analysis helps to avoid confusion during the multiplication and division process. Review the background material with the students, discuss the vocabulary, then begin the activity.) Vocabulary / Definitions Word Definition Unit conversion The process of equating different units of measurement Dimensional A technique that uses unit conversion as a tool to check the correctness of a analysis calculation. Procedure Background 2

3 Discuss that the United Sates uses the English system of measurement while most of the world uses the metric unit of measurement. Before the Activity Collect and distribute materials. With the Students Procedure: Day 1: MONEY 1. Introduce to the students that there are various combinations of money that are equal to one dollar. 2. Develop the concept of a ratio = 1 by using 4 quarters/dollar = 10 dimes/dollar, etc. 3. Remind students that anything multiplied by 1 is equal to itself. 4. Remind students that it is necessary to cancel out like-units from the top and bottom of the ratios. Also, the unit being converted TO is the unit on the TOP. 5. Practice converting various combinations of coins and bills into other units using the factor-label method. 6. Give the students a worksheet for homework. Day 2: HEIGHT Materials Tape Measure (English and Metric) Calculators (optional) Procedure 1. Measure the height of each student and give them their heights in varying units (i.e. millimeters, centimeters, meters, inches, feet, yards) 2. Students will use the factor label method to determine their height in the units not given to them (example: centimeters to meters and millimeters). 3. Students share their findings with the class and the class as a whole will check their work. 4. Give the students a homework sheet converting units of length into other units using the factor-label method. Day 3: M&Ms AND VOLUMES Materials Bag of M&Ms Liter/ 500mL beaker Boxes of various sizes (jewelry boxes, shoe boxes, cereal boxes, fishtank) 3

4 Ruler/ tape measure Procedure 1. Pour M&Ms into a clean beaker to a known volume. 2. Pour them out onto a clean towel and have students count them. This will provide a density. 3. Give them the ratio 1L/1000 cm 3 = 1, and have them convert the volume to cm Give the students the measurements of the various sized boxes from small to large. 5. Have the students determine the volume of the boxes using the measurements. 6. Using the factor label method, have the students determine how many M&Ms will fit into the box. Safety Issues None. Troubleshooting Tips Help the students to understand that each block (top over bottom) within their unit conversion has a value equal to 1. Investigating Questions Have student groups complete the following worksheets. 4

5 NAME: DATE: HINT: 1 dollar 1 dollar 1 dollar 1 dollar = 1 = 1 = = 1 4 quarters 10 dimes 20 nickels pennies 12 nickels dimes nickels dimes 7 nickels pennies pennies nickels 3 dollars nickels nickels dollars 15 nickels quarters quarters nickels 5 dollars quarters 325 pennies nickels 5

6 NAME: DATE: MY HEIGHT: centimeters 1. centimeters millimeters centimeters millimeters 2. centimeters meters MY HEIGHT: inches 3. inches feet 4. feet yards (USE THE ANSWER FROM PROBLEM 3 TO SOLVE PROBLEM 4) 6

7 NAME: DATE: M&Ms RATIO: M&Ms ml (Number of M&Ms) (Volume of M&Ms) 1 ml = 1 1 cm 3 Box Type Dimensions (cm) Volume Estimate of the number of M&Ms that will fit in the box Actual number of M&Ms each box can hold (factorlabel method) Difference between estimate and actual value Jewelry Box Shoe Box Cereal Box 7

8 Assessment Pre-Activity Assessment None Activity Embedded Assessment Have the student groups complete the worksheets. Post-Activity Assessment Evaluation will be based upon teacher observation of student participation and completion of the worksheets. Activity Extensions Devise other unit conversion activities for time, weight on other planets, etc. Owner Drexel University GK-12 Program Contributors Theresa Andrejack Copyright Copyright 2007 Drexel University GK12 Program. Reproduction permission is granted for nonprofit educational use Version: Mar

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