Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Use The Metric System!

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post "IS AMERICA'S MEDIOCRE (AT BEST) SCIENCE SCORES DUE TO NOT USING THE METRIC SYSTEM?suggesting the mediocre science scores for U.S. high school students is related to the lack of familiarity to the metric system.  That is one reason for using the Metric System.  But why do scientists like the Metric System (technically scientists use the  International System - SI which is a simplified Metric System) in the first place?

The U.S. Metric Association (USMA) summarizes these to six points or advantages:
  1. No conversions - only one unit for each quantity.
  2. Coherence - derived units are based on simple algebraic quotients or products of base units.  There are no numerical definitions to memorize.
  3. No fractions - uses decimals only.
  4. Prefixes - prefixes are short and to the base 10.
  5. Few units - The SI system only 30 individually named units and students only need to remember a few units depending on which subject they are taking.
  6. Easy to write and say - quantities are much easier to express in the SI system.
Although my colleagues and I always teach and reteach the metric system year in and year out for science classes, this year I am focusing on why we prefer the Metric system.  It should be a "no brainer" but I always have a student who will argue that the U.S. customary system works fine and the rest of the world should follow us.  I tell the student I hope not!

U.S. Metric Association (USMA), Inc. 

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