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Education Resources on the Metric System (SI)

This collection of resources can be used to enrich classroom curriculum and reinforce student learning. These resources are helpful to students as they become familiar with the metric system and learn more about SI basics. This site has numerous educational materials published by NIST that can be downloaded and freely reproduced. Contact the TheSI [at] nist.gov (NIST Metric Program) regarding handouts available in bulk so that each student can receive a copy, such as NIST SP 365, a laminated Metric Conversion Card, which has an 8 cm rule on one edge.

Highlights

SI Teachers Kit: Obtain a free set of metric education resources for your classroom by contacting TheSI [at] nist.gov (include your name, school, subject, grade level, phone number, and mailing address).

FAQ: How do I get a metric 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.

National Position Statements and Resolutions. Metric system (SI) knowledge, skills, and abilities are critical education element and measurement science is essential for Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. Learn more about U.S. professional education organization positions on teaching the SI with these examples.

  • National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS) - Adopt and Implement the Metric System in the United States - October 2012 - PDF
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) - The Metric System - July 2015 - PDF
  • National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) - Use of the Metric System - Adopted January 1999, Reaffirmed February 2016
  • National Education Association (NEA) - Resolution B-57. Metric System (1969, 1996). The National Education Association believes in the adop­tion of the International System of Units (SI metric system). The Association advocates that the SI system be taught at all educational levels.

NIST Metric Pyramid - LC 1140 - PDF

Learning the SI? Keep common SI symbols and conversion factors on your desk. Using card stock paper, print out the easy to construct three-dimensional NIST metric pyramid! The pyramid has a list of the metric symbols, and conversion factors for area, temperature, length, and mass.(Great for students and teachers alike)

NIST Children's Activity Cards - PDF

A sheet of printable activity cards that the children can imprint with their name, height, and weight in metric units. (Print off a master copy on A4 paper to replicate as needed. Cut the cards apart at the indicated crop lines.)

NIST Bookmark - PDF

A sheet of printable ruled bookmarks with visual references to metric measurement units. (Print off two master copies on A4 paper to replicate as needed, photo copy them back-to-back, and cut them at the indicated crop lines.)

Presidents and Measurements

Presidents' Day is a national holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February and is as a day where all U.S. presidents are remembered and honored. Enjoy the holiday by exploring these measurement education resources. Read More.

The Measurement League: Guardians of the SI

NIST League of SI Superheroes
Credit: NIST: J. Wang and B. Hayes

This comic book-style video animation series has been developed to help middle school students learn about the 7 SI base measurement units. The Measurement League are superheroes dedicated to the fight against uncertainty, imprecision, and inaccuracy and to improving the quality of our lives and the things we build. Videos are available on the NIST YouTube Channel and Education page.

  • Episode 1: Desperate Measures! The SI Superheroes use the power of measurement to help a stranded soccer player get home.
  • Episode 2: Running Out of Time! The SI Superheroes battle archvillain Major Uncertainty in a race to keep the world's satellite navigation system "on time."
  • Episode 3: Mass Hysteria! The nefarious Major Uncertainty has kidnapped Monsieur Kilogram, putting the world’s measurements of mass in jeopardy.
  • Episode 4: Two Truths & a Lie. After rescuing Monsieur Kilogram and capturing Major Uncertainty, our Superheroes take a break and play a game of "Two Truths & a Lie."

Companion Resources:

  • Superhero Profiles (NIST). Meet the Measurement League
  • Valentine’s Day Cards (NIST).
  • Coloring Pages (NIST). Ideal for young students.
  • SP 304A (2017) SI Measurement System Chart (NIST). This publication is a colorful chart explaining the 7 base units of the SI (International System of Units) and prefix symbols, featuring the Measurement League: Guardians of the SI. Submit hardcopy requests to thesi [at] nist.gov. Print a copy (select “print to fit”). Original dimensions: 279 mm by 432 mm (11 in by 17 in). Submit hardcopy requests to TheSI [at] nist.gov print a copy (select “print to fit”). Original dimensions: 279 mm by 432 mm (11 in by 17 in).

Leader's Guide for Conducting a Metric Usage Seminar - PDF

This document was created by the U.S. Metric Board with the purpose of providing background and tools to conduct a metric usage seminar based on hands-on learning opportunities for the participants. The seminar consists of background on the metric system, learning metric terms, and practicing making metric measurements. The exercises are designed to help people learn to "think metric" in their daily lives.

A Dictionary of Units of Measurement

This site goes beyond the standard definitions of units. The site has good depth on the use of metric unit prefixes, how to write them, and symbols and abbreviations. There is also a history of U.S. measurement and information on other measurement units.

Measurement in Sport

Measurements are essential to ensuring fairness in sports. SI measurements are used on everything from keeping accurate event times, the correct pressure of sports balls, and measuring competition distances. Learn how measurement plays a big part in providing a level playing field for all athletes.

NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers

  • A two-week workshop for middle school science and math teachers featuring hands-on activities, lectures, tours, and visits with NIST scientists and engineers in their laboratories.
  • U.S. Metric Association-Blake Family Foundation Metric Awards. The U.S. Metric Association (USMA) has partnered with the Blake Family Foundation to offer two awards to increase awareness and usage of the International System of Units (SI) in the United States. Applicants are asked to explain their efforts to promote the SI in the United States.

Contacts

Created January 13, 2010, Updated October 14, 2021