Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lesson Plan: Metric Olympic Games

The Olympics start tonight! The Metric Olympics are not only timely for the Olympics, but are also a great way to teach students about the metric system and conversions! Our lesson plan for the Metric Olympics is broken into five unit lesson plans, which will be posted separately. The entire unit plan is intended for sixth grade, but can be adapted for any middle-level grade. The following lesson is the final part of the unit that involves "Olympic-like" games.

Click the following links for each part: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

Title: Conclusion: Metric Olympic Games

Grade Level: 6th, can be adapted for other grades

Subjects: Science/Math


  • PA.M.2.3.3.B: Determine the measurement of objects with nonstandard and standard units (e.g., US customary and metric).
  • PA.M.2.3.5.D: Convert linear measurements within the same system.
  • PA.SCI.3.1.10.D.2: Convert one scale to another.
  • PA.SCI.3.2.7.B.1: Measure materials using a variety of scales.
  • PA.SCI.3.7.7.B.1: Select appropriate instruments to measure the size, weight, shape and temperature of living and non-living objects. Apply knowledge of different measurement systems to measure and record objects' properties
Anticipatory Set:
Metric System Conversion Table
  • Show the Metric System conversion table (attached) on an overhead projector.  Briefly review each prefix and its multiple.
  • Recall the mnemonic device used to remember how to convert the units.  Give the example "King Henry Doesn't Usually Drink Chocolate Milk."  Ask students to share a mnemonic device that they made up.
  • Motivate students by telling them that they will be competing against their classmates in the Olympics!  Explain that the students will do numerous fun, game-like activities.  In addition, explain that they will keep score for the Metric Olympics.

1. Set up the stations before class in an open area such as the hallway, gym, or outdoors.

2. Briefly explain and demonstrate the rules for each station to the students:
  • Paper Plate Discus: Throw the paper plate like a frisbee as far as possible. Measure how far the object was thrown using a meter stick. Write the measurement down on the Metric Olympic worksheet, then convert to centimeters.
  • Cotton Ball Shot Put: Throw the cotton ball as far as possible.  Measure the distance with a meter stick. Then, convert the measurement to hectometers on the Metric Olympic worksheet.
  • Straw Javelin: Throw the straw as far as possible.  Measure the distance thrown in centimeters.  Convert the measurement to meters on the Metric Olympic worksheet.
  • Sponge Squeeze: Pick up the sponge from the bucket of water.  With one hand and in one squeeze, squeeze as much water as possible into the graduated cylinder. Measure the water in milliliters. Convert the measurement to centiliters and liters on the Metric Olympic Worksheet.
  • Marble Grab: Grab as many marbles as possible in one hand. Put the marbles onto a paper plate. Put the plate with the marbles onto the balance. Measure the marbles in grams. Convert to kilograms on the Metric Olympic worksheet.
3. Split the class into 5 groups and assign each group a station to go to.  Move the students to the open area (outside, gym, or hallway).

4. Each student will complete each activity. When everybody in the group at each station is finished, the groups will rotate.

5. Students will keep score in order to see which group wins the Metric Olympics.  To keep score, the students will find the group average of the first measurement at each station. The group with the highest average in each category gets 5 points, second highest 4 points, and so on. The group with the most points wins.

6. Clean up stations after last class completes Metric Olympics.

  • Students will be able to work in groups.  If they need extra help, other students within the group may assist them.
  • Students may use their notes to help them with converting.
  • Students will hand in the Metric Olympics worksheet, which will show that they completed the activity and made the correct conversions.
  • Ask the students "what did you learn about the metric system and conversions?" followed up by "how did you use what you learned in this activity?"  Students will raise their hands and verbally answer these questions.
  • Collect Metric Olympic worksheet with the students' measurements and conversions.
  • Follow up with a unit test on metric system and conversions in near future
  • 3 Meter sticks
  • Paper Plates
  • Sponges
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Straws
  • Bucket with water
  • Balance
  • Cotton Balls
  • Marbles
  • Marble Container
  • Paper Towels
  • Masking Tape
  • Open Area
  • Metric Olympic Worksheet (See Below)
Technology: Computer and overhead projector to display Metric System table.

Reflection: Students apply their measuring and converting skills while doing a fun and interactive activity.  Students use three major ways to measure (meter sticks, balance, graduated cylinder), and students will have to apply their skills of using those measuring devices.  Also in the activity, students must make various conversions.  By collecting the Metric System worksheet, it will reveal if the students can complete the measuring and converting tasks, but the students will have fun while they do it.  To make things more advanced, teachers could create games to measure temperature or create more Metric Olympic measuring and conversion games so that the groups will be smaller.

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