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The Arrowhead

The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Arrowhead

Students face dual challenge of imperial, metric units

By commonly using two different measuring systems in the U.S., the metric system and imperial system, often confusion arises for students. Issues from swapping between metric and imperial measuring systems often become apparent in science classes where students are encouraged to use the metric system.
Students face dual challenge of imperial, metric units

Due to the prominent foreign use of the metric system, American students sometimes face issues in comprehension when having to switch between the metric and imperial system. 

According to Iowa State University, the reason that the U.S. uses the imperial system is because the U.S. never adopted anything like the Weights and Measurements Act from the United Kingdom, which formally transitioned the country into using the metric system.

Chemistry teacher Christopher Luck said that the reason the U.S. still uses the imperial system is due to the economy. 

“I think the main reason is economics, because to retool all the factories and retrain the population on how to use the other measuring system is estimated to cost in the tens of trillions of dollars to do all at once,” Luck said. 

In addition to dealing with two different measuring systems, students often struggle with the dilemma of using conversion between measures.

“Having two systems of measurement is just a confusion for learners,” Luck said. “They have two systems of measurement that they’ve been taught and they don’t know how to use either of them really effectively.” 

Chemistry teacher Alison McGovern also believes that students sometimes struggle with getting the imperial system “out of their mind” and if the U.S. education system began teaching students the metric system to younger kids it would aid them in their learning.

“I feel like if we start infiltrating and teaching the metric system to younger students, it might be a little bit easier as they grow as a learners,” McGovern said.

Biology teacher Patrick Murphy believes that younger students can be taught more broad topics of measurements rather than specifics. 

“For younger students, where the goal might just be to have them work with the concept of units or related quantities, I do not think the choice of system matters,” Murphy said.

Luck said that students also mix and confuse what are metric units and what are imperial units. 

“Every time I go through that and I ask students to share units and metric units or U.S. units, students start spitting out the units and don’t know which ones they are,” Luck said.

According to Murphy, he has witnessed students mixing up the units within his class, but he also concludes that the mistakes are simple and inconsequential.

“I have certainly experienced students misinterpreting instructions and using the wrong unit,” Murphy said. “[It’s never been] anything too catastrophic but it is always a learning experience.”

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Tristan Rocca Donna, Staff Writer

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