Every day is a metric day at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). But that won't stop the agency from celebrating Metric Week, held annually the week of Oct. 10—the tenth day of the tenth month.
This year marks the 34th annual celebration of Metric Week. Begun by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics on May 10, 1976, approximately one year after the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, Metric Week serves as an opportunity for teachers, students and the public to learn about the metric system, also known as the international system of units, or SI for short, and promote its use.
The U.S. government has adopted SI, long the standard measurement system of science and engineering, as the preferred system of weights and measures for commerce and industry.
Based on units of ten, SI is very easy to learn, and many Americans know it better than they think. Many products, from bottled drinks to medicines, are already sold and conversed about in terms of their metric measures.
"SI knowledge, skills and abilities are essential for students as they pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers," says Elizabeth Gentry, a metric coordinator at NIST. "Developing proficiency in metric measurements will prepare U.S. students to work with cutting edge technology and develop innovative consumer products of the future."
This year, representatives from the NIST Metric Program will be celebrating Metric Week with more than 4,000 students and teachers at the Science and Technology Education Partnership (STEP) conference in Riverside, Calif. Teachers and students who are interested in learning more about SI may download a variety of educational materials from NIST:
- Education Resources
- Everyday Estimation
- Metric Units of Measurement
- Unit Conversions
- Measurements in Sports
Teachers can also request a classroom set of SI educational materials by submitting their contact information and grade level to TheSI@nist.gov.
More information about Metric Week can be found at these sites:
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) http://www.nctm.org/
- NCTM Position - Teaching the Metric System for America's Future http://www.nctm.org/about/content.aspx?id=6346
- National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Position - Use of the Metric System http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/metric.aspx
- U.S. Metric Association - Metric Week http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/metric-week.html