Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 13:17:11 EDT
Subject: Converting CM to MM, ML to CM etc.

Do you have any simple explanations for converting Metric measurements to other Metric measurements?? What helpful hints do you also have for a 5th Grader...

Concerned Parent of 5th Grader...

Dear Concerned Parent

There are some very nice features of the metric system. One is that it is based on 10 like our number system and another is the language. For distance the basic unit is a meter. If you extend your arm to the side and point your finger then a meter is approximately the distance from the tip of your nose to the tip of your finger. The basic volume unit is a liter, approximately a quart, and the basic unit of mass is a gram, approximately the weight of one m&m. For converting measurements there is a uniformity in language, whether you are measuring distance, volume or weight.

  • The prefix deci designates one tenth, like decimal.
  • The prefix centi designates one hundreth, like a cent.
  • The prefix milli designates one thousanth.
Thus a centimeter is one hundreth of a meter and a milliliter is one thousanth of a liter.
   For measurements larger than the basic unit there ae similar prefixes.
  • The prefix deka designates 10.
  • The prefix hecto designates 100.
  • The prefix kilo designates 1000.
Of this later three, by far the most commonly used is kilo. In Canada we buy potatos by the kilogram and our cars travel at speeds measured in kilometers per hour.
   There is also an easy way to convert from volume measured in liters to volume measured in cubic length units. One cubic centimeter is one milliliter. A cubic centimeter is approximately the size of a sugar cube. There is a connection to the mass units here also as one cubic centimeter of water weighs approximately one gram.

I hope this helps,

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