National Metric Week (October 8 to 14, 2023) is an opportunity to underscore the usefulness of metric system measurements, formally known as the International System of Units (SI). Metric Week was originated in 1977 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Now led by the Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) Metric Program and the U.S. Metric Association (USMA), Metric Week is celebrated in classrooms around the country. Metric system skills open doors to many opportunities in an interconnected world. Take it from the Measurement League of SI Superheroes - Learning the SI is like gaining a superpower – the power of 10! For students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), the metric system is a “must know.” Learn the SI to elevate every day with these practical life hacks:
Communication – Understand measurements whether you’re talking or writing to someone in your town or on the other side of the globe.
Estimation – Develop the ability to estimate metric measurements without using tools. This skill helps interpret the world around us.
Cooking Confidence – Metric system measurements simplify cooking and baking. Visit the NIST Metric Kitchen for recipes and follow along with two new fun videos for Chocolate Chip Cookies and Brownies.
Gardening – Measure plant spacing, garden plot area, rainfall calculations, and watering with metric units.
Health Awareness – Monitor your health using metric units for height, weight, and blood pressure. Track fitness progress with metric measurements.
Shop Savvy – Use metric units found on product labels when shopping for groceries and products. Make informed value comparisons with metric unit pricing.
Sports and Recreation – Enjoy outdoor activities and sports using metric units, such as bicycling, running, and swimming.
Temperature Comfort – Use degree Celsius for understanding climate temperature conditions, weather forecasts, and setting thermostats.
The Basics – Understand the SI fundamentals.
SI Prefixes – These 24 SI prefixes help express measurement values at different scales using the powers of 10. Practice scientific notation to become comfortable in handling very large and very small SI quantities.
Measuring Tools – Familiarize yourself with using a variety of measuring tools like digital scales, rulers, and graduated cylinders.
Dimensional Analysis – Apply this calculation technique to systematically change the magnitude of a SI quantity.
Lab and Field Skills – Develop proficiency in applying SI units during laboratory experiment and field investigation measurements that rely on accurate calculations and data analysis.
Classroom Practices – Brush-up on the Top 10 Tips for Teaching the Metric System.
The NIST OWM Metric Program and the US Metric Association collaborate annually to promote Metric Week and distribute website based and hardcopy classroom resources for K-12 public, private, and homeschool educators and informal education outreach ambassadors. A 2023 Metric Week Governor Proclamation (PDF) may be available for your state to commemorate Metric Week in the classroom and raise awareness of metric system benefits. Twenty-seven 2023 proclamation requests were submitted this year, so check back to download available documents.
The US Metric Association has recognized the state of South Carolina (SC) and volunteer Dr. Don Jordan for achieving the 40th consecutive metric week Governor Proclamation through collaboration with the SC Department of Education, SC Academy of Science, and University of SC Center for Science Education.
NIST SI educational resources are ideal to share with your community, including at local elementary, middle, high schools, and universities. Contact the Office of Weights and Measures Metric Program at TheSI [at] nist.gov (TheSI[at]nist[dot]gov) to request a SI Teacher Kit packet. Include your name, event (2023 Metric Week), phone number, and U.S. mailing address.
Although we use the SI everyday, STEM-themed holidays are fun occasions to highlight real-world SI measurement applications and provide students with additional opportunities understand the impact measurements have on society. In addition to National Metric Week, build connections with measurements through the year on Mole Day (23 October), Weights and Measures Week (1 to 7 March), and World Metrology Day (20 May).