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5911 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.

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 using common measurement tools, developing reference points, and building proficiency and confidence in working with metric measurements. Because many educators report that students have limited opportunities to gain experience in metric system use, this activity can increase the occasions where SI abilities can be practiced.

Learning Objectives

The Metric 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 Requirements

Successful completion includes participation in all activities and discussions. Session participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance (which does not include participant names or CEUs) by email after the session. Attendance is recorded in the unofficial transcript, which is 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 responsible for instructing middle school students on measurement techniques and STEAM careers.

Registration Fee

There is currently no registration fee for this webinar. 


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

Technology Requirements

The webinar will be a live stream, so participants must have a constant connection during the webinar (hard-wired is preferred).
System requirements for Webex services

Review these system requirements to verify that you can use the Webex App on your computer, mobile device, or web browser.  Other factors may also influence the performance of the Webex App, for example, network connectivity or other applications on your devices. 

  • Windows PCs:
    • Windows 10 and later. Make sure your drivers are up to date.
    • Intel Dual-Core CPU 2.XX GHz or AMD processor (4 GB of RAM minimum recommended).
    • Some features require additional system requirements:
      • Reactions in a scheduled Webex Meeting or Personal Room meeting.
        • Operating System—Windows 10 version 10.0.17763 or later
        • Processor—four physical cores or more
        • Memory—4 GB or more of RAM
  • Mac:
    • OS X 10.7.5 or later
    • 2GB of memory
    • 8.8GB of available storage
    • Some features require an Apple ID; terms apply.
    • Some features require a compatible Internet service provider; fees may apply.
  • Web Browsers:
    • On computers running Windows, Mac, or Linux, ensure you have the latest release of one of these browsers:
      • Google Chrome,
      • Mozilla Firefox,
      • Apple Safari, and
      • Microsoft Edge.
  • Linux recommended minimum system requirements. 
    • Core requirements: Intel Dual-Core CPU 2.XX GHz or AMD processor (4 GB of RAM minimum recommended)
    • Display Protocols: x11 and Wayland.
    • Desktop environment/Window Manager: GNOME/Mutter and KDE/KWin are recommended.
Created February 7, 2024, Updated April 1, 2024