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Measuring is one of those skills that gets better, the more you use it. Students can measure the length of objects fairly well, using either a meter stick or an English system ruler. Some students have problems deciding what number to use when the objects length is not in whole numbers, say five and one-half inches long. The next type of question students tend to struggle with is when they are asked to convert measurements from one unit to another unit, either larger or smaller. For example, if an object measures 36 inches long, how many feet is that? Or if an object measures 26 milliliters in a graduated cylinder, how many liters is that?
The best example of a measurement problem I remember having was getting the dimensions of a football field correct. In my early career as an educator, I was a band director, and part of my responsibilility was to mark off a practice field for my band. The trick to getting the dimensions correct is to measure from corner to opposing corner, so as to get an exact ninety degree angle in each of the starting corners. Once you have the angles established, now you can mark off your yardlines in five-yard increments.
A few basic questions that should be asked are: What unit of measurement are we using at this given time? Is the operator familiar with this unit of measurement? Will conversions be required? If so, is the operator familiar with the conversions?
It's important to be comparing apples to apples so to speak. If the units of measurement are not the same we must convert one into the other. This will allow our answer to be correct.
Some examples of measurement problems could be converting yards or miles into meters, converting grams into milligrams, or converting km/hr. into miles per hour. Measurement and calculation problems are very common in health-care fields like pharmacy, nursing, and medicine.
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