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5678 Info Session: Metric System Estimation

The International System of Units (SI), commonly known as the metric system, is easy to use and learn when taught using metric tools. The ability to interpret measurement scales, magnitude, and approximate a quantity are essential Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) competencies. Many educators report that students have limited opportunities to gain experience in metric system use.

This 1.5 hour session presents The Metric Estimation Game, a fun hands-on activity that helps middle students become familiar with SI measurements by practicing estimation skills. This session is designed to reinforce the use of common measurement tools, developing reference points, and building proficiency and confidence working with metric measurements.

Learning Objectives:

The Metric System Estimation Game is presented as a model learning activity. At the end of this session, using your notes, you will be able to:

  • DEMONSTRATE metric system measurement estimation skills.
  • APPLY the metric system of measurement to quantify the length, mass, and volume of everyday household objects at multiple magnitudes.
  • SELECT and EMPLOY appropriate length measurement tools.
  • DEVELOP quantity benchmarks that facilitate the sensemaking of 1 kilogram, 1 liter, and 1 meter.
  • APPROXIMATE measurement scale using at least three metric system prefixes.

Game participants collaborate in small groups to earn points as they become familiar with metric (SI) mass, length, and volume measurement units. Students determine a quantity estimate for each game item, which is compared to a verified value. Multiple measurement methods may be used to verify results. Some estimations are determined using basic math formulas. The SI prefixes milli, centi, and kilo are used. Measurement writing style requirements for unit symbols are applied during the game.

Although this activity is designed for a middle school audience, it can be modified to accommodate elementary or high school learners. Extensions include updating the game board to focus on only one measurement parameter during a game session (e.g., mass, length, or volume). Products identified in this session do not imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) nor imply that they are necessarily best for the purpose.

Materials & Supplies:  Participants should bring these materials to the online session: Two 500 mL water bottles (full, remove label), one 2 L bottle (empty, from recycling), one plastic produce bag (from recycling), one U.S. nickel coin, one unused colored wax crayon, and a timer (clock or phone displaying seconds).







Minimum Requirement(s):

Successful completion includes participation in all activities and discussions. Session participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance (does not include participant name or CEUs) delivered by email after the session. Attendance is recorded in the unofficial transcript, available in the OWM Contacts System.


This session is ideal for K-12 educators and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) professionals and other outreach ambassadors who have responsibilities for instructing middle school students on measurement techniques and STEAM careers.


The Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) online webinar training fees have been waived and are currently available free of charge. In person Seminar fees have not changed. OWM encourages our community to participate in this professional development opportunity to build and extend their technical skills.  For more information on OWM training fees, please click here.    


Elizabeth Benham
Phone: (301) 975-3690
Email: elizabeth.benham [at] (elizabeth[dot]benham[at]nist[dot]gov)

Technology Requirement(s):

The webinar will be a live stream, so participants must have a constant connection during the webinar (hard-wired is preferred).
1. Operating System (browser) configurations:

  • Windows
    • Windows 10, 8.1 (32-bit/64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit)
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 or later, Windows Edge browser, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome
    • For HTML Client - Google Chrome (v70.0 & above), Mozilla Firefox (v65.0 & above), and Edge (v42.0 & above)
  • Mac OS
    • Mac OS X 10.12, 10.13 and 10.14
    • Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome
    • For HTML Client - Google Chrome (v70.0 & above), Apple Safari (v12.0 & above), and  Mozilla Firefox (v65.0 & above)
  • Linux
    • Ubuntu 16.04; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
    • No application support is available for Linux. Users on Linux can attend meetings in a browser.
    • Google Chrome, Adobe Flash Player 23.0

2. Mobile

  • The Adobe Connect app for iOS and Android requires Adobe Connect Server version 8.2 or later
  • Some features may not be enabled in all Adobe Connect meetings if one is using an Adobe Connect Server older than version 9.4.2 (required for Custom pods)
  • Google Android 4.4 or later
  • Apple iOS: iOS 8.1.2 or later

3. Media players

  • In order to access the event, you must have, at a minimum, Adobe® Flash® Player 13 or higher installed on your computer. Please visit to download the Flash Player.

4. Optional: If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:

* Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat and Adobe Connect are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.


NIST Office of Weights and Measures | NIST Metric Program

Created August 13, 2020, Updated August 24, 2020