University of Virginia
Physics Department

Metric Measurement

A Physical Science Activity

Student Activity

Part 1 - Standard Measurements of Length




  1. The instructor will provide your group with several distances to measure. Measure them first in paces, then in meters. Enter your distances in the data table below and on the board.
  2. Compare your results with those of your partners.


Data Sheet














Part 2 - The Centimeter and Millimeter




  1. Complete the following Data Sheet


Data Sheet


  1. The diagram below represents a portion of the centimeter ruler between 16 and 17 centimeters. Fill in the answers for (A) and (B) to make sure that you know how to use a ruler.

    A. ____________ cm ___________ mm

    B. ____________ cm ___________ mm

  2. Measure and record the following data:

    Objects Measured

    Cenimters (cm)

    Millimeters (mm)




    Book Width



    Book Length



    Book Height



    Shoe Length



    Index Finger Width at Knuckle



  3. Find the area of the rectangle. First measure the length and width, then multiply the length and width together (A = L x W).


    Length ______cm     Width ______cm     Area ______cm2

    Length ______mm     Width ______mm     Area ______mm2

  4. How do you convert a measurement from centimeters to millimeters?


  5. How do you convert a measurement from millimeters to centimeters?




Part 3 - The Metric Smile




  1. Each person in your group will measure and record the length of the smile of each other person in that group.
  2. Make sure your results agree with everyone else's. If there are discrepancies check your measurements again.
  3. When accurate results are obtained record them in the table from least to greatest.


Data Sheet


Smile Length (cm)











1. Did any of your measurements agree with measurements of the other groups? Which ones agreed?


2. Which method of measurement gave the widest range of measurements?


3. What reason can you give for these differences in measurements?