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Leanne Kelly

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of Measurement

How and why did our current measurement systems arise?
Inquiry Question:
This presentation will focus only on linear forms of measurement, as including volume, mass, temperature, etc. is too extensive for the purpose of this project.
Measurement is a concept that is used commonly in every day life. We all seem to have an understanding of what given distance or length is, approximately. But how did early civilizations solve their need for measurement standards? And how did today’s systems come to be adopted? These are questions that I could not answer, and so I decided to investigate further.

I began studying all types of measurement, but found that including all forms was too vast for the scope of this project. Instead, I chose to focus my study on measurements of length, as this seems to be the most common form of measurement used in everyday life.
Early Conceptions
Early Conceptions Continued
Push to Standardization
Measurement Today
Links to Early Childhood Education
From the earliest times, there is archeological evidence showing that people used primitive forms of measurement to accomplish daily tasks. These measurements were usually determined by common lengths, such as body parts. While these were convenient measurement systems, they lacked standardization, and so lengths could vary depending on the person measuring.

The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greek and Romans formed a system of measurement using the human body as a reference point. Archeological findings show us stone carvings from the fourth century BC in which measurements for the orgyiae (fully outstretched arms), cubit (forearm), hand and foot are preserved.
The Egyptian cubit rod was an attempt to create some standardize of measurement, While the size of the measuring stick ranged from 20.4-27.5 inches in archeological findings, it provided a guideline of measurement for the user ( Morrison, 2011, p. 63).
In 1670, French vicar Gabriel Mouton proposed the first standardized decimal system of measurement. In his work, he based the length unit on the swing length of a pendulum beating one beat per second (about 25 cm). Over the years, his work was revised and expanded by different scientists. (U.S. Metric Association, 2006, para. 1).

During the French Revolution, in 1790, the French Academy of Sciences was commissioned to create the metric system. In this system, the unit of length was calculated from a portion of the Earth's circumference, and multiples of this unit were found by shifting the decimal point (U.S. Metric Association, 2006, para. 3)..

The system was made compulsory in France in 1840. (U.S. Metric Association, 2006, para. 10).

In Alberta Education's Program of Studies, students from Kindergarten to grade 3 will partake in the math unit "Shape and Space". In this unit, students will gain deeper understanding of measurement first by making comparisons between objects based on size, weight and volume, and eventually measuring using standard and non-standard units.

Students will also be able to use their new understanding of measurement systems to engage in problem solving (Alberta Education, 2011).
Links to Early Childhood Education
"Building Things" is a science unit in the grade 1 Program of Studies. In this unit, students are asked to construct objects, such as buildings, toys, and "water-related artifacts" (Alberta Education, 2011).

In the grade 3 Program of studies, students expand their building knowledge in the science units "Building with a Variety of Materials" and "Testing Materials and Designs" (Alberta Education, 2011). In these units, having a deeper understanding of measurement will help students engage in problem solving and creativity in their work.
Links to Early Childhood Education
Citizenship and Identity
Digital Folder
In the Kindergarten Citizenship and Identity topic, students begin to explore the ways in which they are unique due to "social, physical, cultural and linguistic factors" (Alberta Education, 2011). This may include comparing one another in terms of height and other measurable attributes.
Digital Folder
After the French adoption of the metric system, other countries, such as Germany, Italy and Greece, slowly began introducing it. By 1880, "the major European countries and most of South America had adopted it" (Hammersmark, n.d., para. 7).

Following this, the metric system became accepted as the standard system, and was adopted in the majority of the world. It was expanded further at this point to encompass even more units, becoming known as the International System of Units (SI).

Currently, only the United States, Liberia and Burma have not implemented mandatory use of the system.
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