Applied Science - Science and Math (4A)

  • Predicting volume.
  • Developing good lab procedures.
  • beaker
  • metric
  • volume
  • Applied Science - Science And Math (4A) (metric/English measurements- see right)
  • 4 containers per group
  • meat trays to catch spills 

Students compare English and metric system of measurement.



Measurement has been used by ancient civilization for thousands of years.  The first standard system of weights has been traced to the Egyptians and Babylonians.  The Egyptians in about 3500 BC used scales to measure food.  The imperial or English system that the United States uses today, developed in the 1300's with King Edward I in England.  The metric, based on a system of 10, was developed and used in the 1790's.   

There are two systems commonly used to measure things.  The English system is used almost exclusively in the United States.  The metric system is used throughout the world in people’s everyday lives.  Scientists use the metric system throughout the world.  This helps to standardize observation and data collecting.    The metric system is the preferred system of measurement because it is easier to work with.  Sometimes you are asked to convert from one system to another.  In this lab students will be converting from the English system to the metric system.


  1. Use a portion of this lab to go over science procedures specific to your classroom.  If in a science lab, discuss safety, care of materials, and other lab procedures that are specific to the students' lab area.  If in a classroom situation, give rules on how tables will be arranged, safety, and other procedures that are needed to make science "successful and enjoyable for all!"  With any new group of students, discuss lab partners and working in cooperative groups.  Emphasize that it is helpful to work with people to gain their insight and knowledge when experimenting.  In science research, it is very common for "working groups" to develop.
  2. The second part of this lab is to help students become familiar with the measuring tools of science, with an emphasis on volume.  Since these measurements involve liquids, make sure to consider spills.  Suggestions to reduce spills in experiments include  meat trays (from the grocery), a tub, or a sink.  Students sometimes have trouble getting the "exact" level.  Practice will solve this problem.  Some students may realize they could have used math to figure out how many milliliters make up the given quantity.
  3. Go over the difference between the metric and the English system.  Metric uses base ten. English uses a unit of measurement that has a historical rather than mathematical basis.  Metric measurement is the easiest to learn and remember.
  4. In exercise 1, the students will measure a volume of water in English.  They will then try to find out how much this equals in the metric system. 
  5. In exercise 2, use any containers as unknowns.  Students may bring in 2 containers from home.  The students should first predict and then measure the volume of their containers.
  6. When the students have finished, go over the answers and discuss how many milliters are in each container.  Explain that by measuring in one system and then finding the same volume in another system we can determine a conversion.  Inform students that conversions are "mathematical." They will learn the 2 systems by measuring with both systems to get a "feel" for the amounts.
  7. ANSWERS:  
    250 ml = 1 cup; 500 ml = 2 cups; 62.5 ml = 1/4 cup; 125 ml = ½ cup; 
    15 ml = 1 tablespoon; 625 ml = 2 ½ cups; 312.5 ml = 1 1/4 cups

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