St. Vincent students inch toward using metric system

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

St. Vincent de Paul School in Cape Girardeau is celebrating metric measurements this week.

Virginia Sander, a junior high math teacher, said she got the idea to celebrate metric week from an e-mail the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics sent her and from some Web sites.

The goal of the Metric Olympics on Tuesday afternoon was to have the students thinking about using metric measurements, Sander said.

"It's not so much about conversion as it is can you recognize something that is 150 centimeters long." she said.

The hope is to get students comfortable using metric measurements without them noticing they are learning the system, Sander said.

"A lot of them realize multiplying and dividing by 10 is really easy," she said.

Seventh-grader Will Brost disagrees with Sander.

"I'm used to seeing inches and feet," he said.

In an attempt to get acquainted with the metric system, some St. Vincent teachers have a measuring poster outside their classroom doors for the students to see how tall they are in centimeters.

That comparison has helped Will determine how many centimeters he threw an object.

The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders all threw paper plate discuses, javelins made of straws and cotton-ball shot puts, grabbed marbles with their right hands, squeezed sponges with their left hands, and measured the area of one of their feet.

Valerie Kelley, a seventh-grader, said her favorite event at Metric Olympics was throwing the paper discus.

"I just threw it like a Frisbee," she said.

The day's events included subtracting the students' estimations of how far they threw the shot put, discus and the javelin; how heavy the marbles were, how much water they could squeeze and how big the area of their foot from what they actually threw, weighed, squeezed and measured.

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