Powerful Ideas Related to Measurement
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The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
"What size do you want to be?" it asked.
"Oh, I'm not particular as to size," Alice hastily replied; "only one doesn't like changing so often, you know."
"I DON'T know," said the Caterpillar.
Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.
"Are you content now?" said the Caterpillar.
"Well, I should like to be a LITTLE larger, sir, if you wouldn't mind," said Alice: "three inches is such a wretched height to be."
"It is a very good height indeed!" said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
How high? How much? How long? How soon? How heavy? How fast? How many questions do we deal with on a daily basis that have something to do with measurement? Is our interest in (obsession with?) measurement a characteristic of Western culture? How would life be different if we suddenly eliminated all use of measurement? If we can even imagine such a change, we must admit that a world without measurement would seem like a world much more primitive than the world we know. It seems evident that measurement is near the very heart of scientific progress and, as such, near the very heart of the development of the modern world. There may have once been a time when an understanding of measurement was not a necessity, but that time has long since passed. In today's world, anyone who does not have command of this area of mathematics is at a serious disadvantage.
As with so many areas of elementary mathematics, if we want to deepen our understanding of this topic, we must uncover and peel back the layers of our learning. We must go back down to the fundamental concepts and see how it is that we built our knowledge from the earliest stages. Since our use of measurement is so ubiquitous, this uncovering may be a relatively difficult task.
Choose any of the articles listed below to get started developing your measurement-teaching skills.
- The Concept of Measurement
- Why Does Measurement Matter?
- Linear Measurement
- Linear Measurement Compared with Area Measurement
- Measurement of Volume
- Measurement of Weight
- Measurement of Time
- Measurement Units as Standard
- The Power of the Metric System
- Estimation in Measurement
- The Use of Formulas in Measurement
- Measurement Activities and Exercises
Further enhance your math curriculum with more Professional Development Resources for Teaching Measurement, Grades K-5.
Elementary Mathematics: Pedagogical Content Knowledge, by James E. Schwartz, is designed to sharpen pre-service and in-service teachers' mathematics pedagogical content knowledge. The five "powerful ideas" (composition, decomposition, relationships, representation, and context) provide an organizing framework and highlight the interconnections between mathematics topics. In addition, the text thoroughly integrates discussion of the five NCTM process strands.