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Weights and Measures Week

Weights and Measures Week is celebrated every year from March 1 to 7 to commemorate President John Adams signing the first U.S. weights and measures legislation into law on March 2, 1799. NIST SP 447, Weights and Measures Standards of the United States, A Brief History (PDF) provides insight into the fascinating history of measurement system development. Looking for education resources to support Weights and Measures Week activities in the classroom or outreach event? Explore the NIST Educational STEM Resource Registry (NEST-R).

As John Quincy Adams so aptly put…”Weights and Measures may be ranked among the necessaries of life to every individual of human society.” Join the U.S. Weights and Measures community in celebrating national Weights and Measures Week using the social media hashtag #ThankAnInspector!

In the News

Graphic image of Scales
Credit: NIST

Videos

 

 

 

Past Events

U.S. Weights and Measures Week: Measuring Up to the New Normal (2021)

representation of weights and measures at a packaging plant, a manufacturing plant and a supermarket.
Credit: B. Hayes. NIST

Each year during national Weights and Measures Week (March 1 to 7), NIST celebrates the contributions made by the weights and measures community to ensure accuracy and fair competition in commercial transactions based on weight or measure. The 2020 theme, “Measuring Up to the New Normal,” was especially meaningful as this year will be remembered as one of the most unusual years we’ll likely experience in our lifetimes … and highlights how a common challenge can positively transform how we do business. The 2020 theme, “Measuring Up to the New Normal,” was especially meaningful as this year will be remembered as one of the most unusual years we’ll likely experience in our lifetimes … and highlights how a common challenge can positively transform how we do business.

 


Charging Ahead: Weights and Measures Week (2020)

electric vehicle symbol of a car with a plug attached on a green background
Credit: DrimaFilm/shutterstock.com

Weights and Measures Week is celebrated every year from March 1 to 7 to commemorate President John Adams signing the first U.S. weights and measures legislation into law on March 2, 1799. It is estimated that sales of products or services involving “weights and measures” in the United States represent approximately 50 % of the U.S. gross domestic product. While you may not think about it very often, weights and measures touch our lives every day. Every time you fill up at the pump or go grocery shopping, and you’re buying goods and services priced, advertised and sold based on some quantity, be it gallons, liters, kilowatt-hours, kilograms, pounds or even time, a measurement is involved.


 Back to Basics: Weights and Measures Week (2018)

black and white photo of a 1920s weights and measures inspector checking the accuracy of a grocery store scale using test weights
Credit:  NIST (c. 1920)

What’s “Weights and Measures Week,” you might ask? That’s the week set aside every year to commemorate the signing of the first weights and measures law by President John Adams on March 2, 1799. Unless you love history, you’re probably thinking, “Boring! That was so long ago, it can’t possibly be of interest to me.” Well, read on. Let’s first consider all the things you buy based on weight, measure or count. Milk for your cereal; gasoline (or other fuel) for your car; carpet for your family room; meat and vegetables for your dinner; lumber to build your home; toothpaste; and even medications to keep you healthy.

 

 


The Unit Price is Right (2017)

Man selecting grape juice in grocery store
Checking the unit price labels at the local grocery store.
Credit: F. Webber/NIST

There are exciting adventures in a grocery store when it comes to deals. Challenges range in getting the best deals with the best tools available to enable price and value comparison is unit pricing with the shelf labels that provide the price per unit of measure. It’s especially helpful in today’s environments where “downsizing” of packages, also known as "shrinkflation," is a common practice. If you’re anything like me, you probably get frustrated with the unit pricing labels that some stores use. Some of the things I find a little vexing are having to read small print, not being able to locate information on the label easily, and especially when I see that the unit of measure being used for the unit price is not consistent across a product category.


Happy Weights and Measures Week (2016)

Photo of individuals at a checkout counter in grocery store
Credit: Tyler Olson/shutterstock.com

Like many of you, I venture out on Saturday mornings to get groceries and gas. Until my college years, I never thought much about whether or not I paid the right amount at the pump, if the supermarket scale was correct, or if packaged foods actually contained the amount of product stated on the package. It was not until I took a position with the Maryland Weights and Measures (W&M) program, first as a field inspector and then as a metrologist, that I learned about how the U.S. weights and measures system lays the foundation for fair commerce.

 


In High Gear (2013)

alternative fuel vehicle
Credit: Copyright: kabby/shutterstock.com

From the fuel for your vehicle to a cab ride to the airport, all kinds of consumer products and services are sold by some measurable quantity. The methods for measuring these quantities and the people who make sure those measurements are accurate are absolutely vital to maintaining fairness in the marketplace. Their professional field is called "weights and measures." Each new year brings unique challenges as emerging technologies create new markets or change how existing markets operate. The weights and measures community works constantly to keep pace with the outpouring of new products and services.

 

 

 


Resources

Graphic Image of Mount Rushmore with text PRESIDENTIAL MEASUREMENTS TIMELINE on top
Credit: NIST

Presidential Measurements Timeline: Throughout United States history, Presidential and Congressional decisions have influenced all aspects of American life, including how measurements are used. Enjoy the Presidential Measurement Timeline chronology beginning with the leadership of the our first president, George Washington. Discover historically significant events.

Graphpaper background with the word Training printed on it

Resources for Continuing Education and Training:  OWM has various online resources that can be used for training and continuing education, both in a formal setting and through self-study. The resources are free to download, print, and share to best meet individual needs. Here we highlight those that are newly added along with links to existing resources. Check back to this page regularly to learn about our new resources.

Graphic image of a calendar with words Weights & Measures Training Calendar

Weights and Measures Calendar of Events:  The Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) encourages our community to participate in professional development opportunities to build and extend their technical skills. All of scheduled events can be found on this site. OWM learning events and training resources provide the weights and measures community, industry, and other stakeholders with ongoing professional development. Many states require that their weights and measures officials and laboratory metrology staff to receive training throughout their careers.

Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) Programs

Contacts

Created February 28, 2022, Updated March 14, 2022