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Metric System Primer. Science uses the Metric system units as it’s standard for reporting data. Knowing the basics of the Metric system is essential. To report data on: Length – the standard is the Meter Mass – the standard is the Gram Volume – the standard is the Liter

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Metric system primer

Metric System Primer

Science uses the Metric system units as it’s standard for reporting data.

Knowing the basics of the Metric system is essential.

To report data on:

Length – the standard is the Meter

Mass – the standard is the Gram

Volume – the standard is the Liter

Temperature – Degrees Celcius

Time - Second


Metric system primer1
Metric System Primer

  • Length – Meter abbreviation “m”

  • 1 meter, 1 m – a length approximately 39 inches

  • (uses – 100 meter range in Olympic archery)

  • The meter is subdivided into smaller units using standard prefixes of a set value:

    • Kilo = 1000 - Km = 1000 meters (used to measure long distances, for example: Distance from home to RVS campus 8.3 Km) Convert 8.3 Km to m. 8.3 X 1000 = 8300 meters

      • *** simple, just move the decimal place to the right 3 spaces, that is the same as multiplying by 1000 (Very easy – even for us Math impaired biologists)


Metric system primer2
Metric System Primer

  • (uses – 100 meter range in Olympic archery) too far for me


Metric system primer3
Metric System Primer

  • Meter Ruler

  • Divided into smaller more useful units

  • Centimeter – “cm” 1/100th of meter

  • Millimeter – “mm” 1/1000th of meter


Metric system primer4
Metric System Primer

  • Meter Ruler

  • Divided into even more smaller more useful units

    • Micrometer = micron, the µ symbol, Greek letter, 1/1000,000 meter (length of a cell)

    • Nanometer = nm, 1/1000, 000,000 (length of a molecule


Metric system primer5

Metric System Primer

Average arrow: 29 inches, or .74 m (740mm)


Metric system primer6
Metric System Primer

  • Relative size of things in Biology


Metric system primer7
Metric System Primer

  • You must be able to quickly convert from one metric length to another. It is easy; you only have to move the decimal place the appropriate number of places.

  • Example: A cell is 0.005 mm long. What is its length in microns? Remember that a micron is 1/000,000th of a meter and that a mm is 1/1000th of a meter. Which way do we move the decimal? How many places?

  • Move to the right, 3 places (same as multiplying by 1000) answer is 5.0 microns. So, 5.0 microns is equivalent to 0.005 mm


Metric system primer8
Metric System Primer

  • The metric unit for Mass is the Gram; symbol “g”. This a small mass unit. A BB from your childhood Daisy Red Rider weighs about a gram.

  • Useful prefixes help.

    • Kilo; 1000, so a Kg is 1000 grams, a tea cup poodle might weigh only 2Kg ( close to 5 lbs)

    • My poodle weighs almost 6KG

    • Milli; 1/1000th, so a mg is 1/1000 g, a medicine dosage might be 400 mg for IBU

    • Micro, 1/1000,000th, so 100 µg is ____ mg

    • move decimal to the ____ by ____ places

    • (some bio toxins, Cbot, concentrations are measured in µg)



Metric system primer9
Metric System Primer

  • The metric system unit for volume is the Liter (not litter – that is for kittens)

  • A liter is a large volume (about a quart)

  • Useful prefixes help.

    • Milli – 1/1000, so 1ml is equal to .001L

    • Convert 350 ml to Liters. Ans: ____ L

    • Move decimal to the ____by ____ places

    • Micro – 1/1000,000, µ, so 400 µl of alcohol is equivalent to ________ ml.

    • Move decimal to the ____by ____ places

    • (** don’t forget that 1.0 ml of water is 1.0 cc of water and actually has a mass of 1.0 g)



Metric system primer10
Metric System Primer

  • Temperature: In the metric system, temperature is given in degrees Celsius,


Metric system primer11
Metric System Primer

  • Temperature: In the metric system, temperature is given in degrees Celsius

  • Useful temperatures to memorize

  • Human body = 37 C (98.6 F)

  • Water freezes at 0 C (32 F)

  • Water boils at 100 C (212 F)

  • Convert Temp from C to F = 1.8 C +32

  • Convert Temp from F to C = F-32 X5/9



Metric system primer12
Metric System Primer boiling water - 100 degrees C

  • Metric standard unit for time is Second (s)

  • Ks = _______ seconds

    ms = ________ seconds

    • µs = ___________seconds

      ns = ______________ seconds

      I’ll give you some quiz questions on the metric system for practice in class.


Review questions on line
Review questions on line boiling water - 100 degrees C

  • http://www.austincc.edu/biology

  • Go to the anatomy and physiology prep. Link

  • Online Self-Prep Course for the Anatomy Assessment Test

  • Go to Metric system Module and review


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