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Measurement Lab
Problem: How do you decide which SI prefix to use when measuring an item?

Use everyday household items to complete the following measurements. Use as many decimal places as each instrument allows based on the measuring lines. The more decimal points you use, the more precise the measurement. You can substitute items if necessary, but you must note what substitutions you make (for example, if you use a textbook instead of a phone book denote this in your data table). If you are unsure about how to complete the unit conversions, refer back to the content in the module.

Materials Needed:

  • metric ruler, measuring tape, or meter stick
  • 2 different size cups
  • bathroom scale that can weigh items at least between 1 and 20 pounds.
  • measuring cup
  • telephone book
  • full two liter bottle or gallon of milk
  • large pot or pan Procedure:
    Perform the following measurements. Create a data table showing your measured data and conversions for each type of measurement. Show the calculations that you used for conversion under each data table. Distance
  1. Measure the following items in centimeters (cm):
    1. length of a table
    2. length of the room the table is in
    3. width of the same room
  2. Using conversion factors, convert these measurements into meters (m) and kilometers (km)


  1. Pour water into two different sized cups. The exact amount is not important, but about 3/4 full is best.
  2. Pour the water from one cup into a measuring cup and measure the volume in milliliters (mL).
  3. Pour that water down the sink.
  4. Now pour the water from the second cup into the measuring cup and measure its volume in mL.
  5. Using conversion factors, convert these measurements into liters (L) and decaliters (daL)


  1. Mass the following items on a bathroom scale in pounds (lbs.):
    1. telephone book
    2. two liter bottle or gallon of milk
    3. a large pot or pan.
  2. Using conversion factors, convert these measurements into kilograms and grams. (Hint: there are 2.2 pounds for every 1 kilogram).

Lab Report

Your data must be presented in the form of a lab report. The following elements should be included in your lab report.

Introduction ~ (20 points) Please include the following elements in paragraph form:

  • General description of lab.
  • What determines the preciseness of a measurement?
  • How do you mathematically perform unit conversions?
  • What is the problem you are trying to solve with this lab? Data ~ (60 points) Three data tables should be included for this lab report. Each data table should include:
  • Measurement in the units specified in the procedure.
  • Measurement converted into units specified in the procedure.
  • Item that is being measured.
  • Math work used to convert units. Conclusion ~ (20 points) Please include the following elements in paragraph form:
  • For each of the quantities that you measured (table, room, volume of cups, telephone book, two liter bottle, and pot or pan) which unit do you think is the most logical one to use and why?
  • Why is it important to convert units?
  • Why is it easier to convert units using the SI System versus the common system of measurement used in the United States?
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