The measurement of length in meters and centimeters seems to be the most common units used by middle school science students and so the emphasis will be with these units when measuring objects.
After the demonstration / explanation of the meter stick and metric ruler is completed a good follow up exercise is Lab Skill 1 in “Basic Skills in the Laboratory” by Charles E. Towne.
Students should then be allowed to measure various common objects to become more familiar with their dimensions in metric units. Estimating sizes and distances is also a good activity and finding their per cent of error always adds to the fun.
Other activities could be to find their pace(amount of steps to cover 10 meters) and find distances to various places using their pace. If possible the actual distances can be measured and per cent error calculated.
Another activity could be the use of the triangulation method to find the distance to an unknown object. Again the actual distance could be found and the per cent of error calculated. (see “triangulation” at end of unit).
If you have access to vernier calipers, students enjoy working with these as their measurements are more accurate and they are learning to use a new instrument. A good source of information for the use of the caliper is “Selected Experiments for Elements of Physics” by Buchanan and Murphy. This text can probably be found at the SCSU bookstore as this was written for their Physics course.
Activities of this nature tend to keep the students interest and also aid them when confronted with similar material on standardized tests.
To evaluate this section, a good way is to have then find the density of three objects and identify them by comparing their results to a bar graph constructed by you.
Now that we have measured matter in two of the three states of matter, we will learn about the third state of matter and what separates on state from another.
Although matter exists in four states, we will concern ourselves with the three states that are familiar to us.