Attention Teachers! Did you know that you can obtain a free set of metric education resources for use in your classroom? Contact the NIST Metric Program at TheSI [at] nist.gov and include your name, school, subject, grade level, phone number, and U.S. mailing address. The NIST SI Teacher Kit contains a curated collection of instructional measurement resources. A metric ruler is a valuable tool for science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) classrooms. Metric ruler FAQs are available below.
Our website has numerous educational materials that can be downloaded and freely reproduced. These resources are helpful to students as they become familiar with the SI, develop reference points or that innate understanding of how much a quantity is, and learn more about SI basics. Your students may find Everyday Estimation and Becoming Familiar with the SI helpful. In addition, there are several Unit Conversion resources available.
NIST LC 1140 - Metric Pyramid is a helpful study aid that can be easily constructed with yellow cardstock to keep common approximate unit conversion factors for mass, length, area, volume, temperature, and energy close at hand. It's a great homework helper!
NIST SI Measurement System Chart (2021) is a colorful chart explaining the 7 base units of the SI, prefix symbols, and features the Measurement League: Guardians of the SI. SI Prefix symbols are featured in the chart and used to represent smaller or larger units by factors that are powers of 10. Submit hard copy requests to TheSI [at] nist.gov. Chart dimensions: 216 mm by 279 mm (8.5 in by 11 in).
NIST SP 1247 – SI Base Units Relationship Poster is a colorful classroom resource, which illustrates the relationships between the SI base units and derived units with special names. This diagram is available in hardcopy in the SI Teacher Kit, but may also be printed.
This resource is designed to engage middle school (and higher) students in learning about the SI unit relationships and is aligned with the BIPM SI Brochure, 9th edition and NIST SP 330, The International System of Units (SI), 2019 edition. Chart dimensions: 216 mm x 280 mm (8.5 in x 11 in).
Unit conversion is a multi-step process that involves multiplication or division by a numerical factor; selection of the correct number of significant digits; and rounding.
Hardcopy resources are available while supplies last.
One recommended education best practice is to teach the SI by using the SI. Students must build proficiency and confidence working with metric measurements before they can effectively make comparisons with other measurement systems. Use single system measurement tools whenever possible. Using dual unit measuring equipment can confuse learners because it is easy to select and use the wrong scale. When possible, acquire metric measuring devices (meter sticks, kilogram or gram scales, and Celsius thermometers). If dual unit measurement tools are used (e.g., those using U.S. customary units), block the non-metric units from view. For example, use opaque tape, an index card, or paint to cover up inches on a dual unit ruler.
Metric rulers are available from many retail vendors, which can be identified by using search terms such as "metric rule," "meter stick," or "metric stick." Printable rulers such as the centimeter Color-square rules, can be color printed on to overhead transparency sheets to make inexpensive metric rulers. You may also be interested in similar printable teaching aids that create a liter cube or a cubic decimeter box, which are easily constructed using cardstock.