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Understanding The Metric

| Learning | October 27, 2016

(I am an Australian that participates in a Study Abroad/Exchange program to an American university. To my utmost displeasure, I must complete a chemistry unit/subject whilst attending my American university. I was not looking forward to the first day of class, and walked in with much dread.)

Chemistry Lecturer: “Okay, class, welcome to Chemistry 101. This is a very general chemistry class that teaches both first year and freshmen science, pre-med, and nursing degrees, so it’s going to be a basic and pretty easy course.”

(I roll my eyes and still know this isn’t going to be as easy as the lecturer is making it out to be. Sure enough, he start rattling on about quantum mechanics and atom structure and the mole and other big words I don’t understand.)

Chemistry Lecturer: “But first, our first two classes we will be looking at the Systeme Internationale, otherwise known as the International System or the SI. What is the SI? Well it’s pretty much the standard unit of measurement used across the world in science. You probably better know it as the metric system.”

(Ears prick up and I look intently at the lecturer.)

Lecturer: “So, who here knows the metric system?”

(The class is only small, around 40 students in the class, and about 30 students raise their hands, including me, smiling slightly now.)

Lecturer: “I thought so. Okay, good. Now, how many actually know how the metric system works?”

(Everyone lowers their hand. The class has a little giggle, but I’m still raising my hand. The lecturer looks surprised.)

Lecturer: “Really? Okay then, can you please tell me how many grams are in a kilogram?”

Me: “1,000 grams.”

Lecturer: “And how many millilitres make up a litre?”

Me: “1,000 millilitres.”

Lecturer: “Where are you from, may I ask?”

Me: “Australia.”

Lecturer: “OH! Well then do you want to come back In a couple more lessons? You can skip these two if you want; all we’re doing is learning the metric system.”

(I didn’t want to miss the lessons just in case there was some important information and besides, it helpful to learn a lecturer’s teaching style for the first intro lessons so you know to write notes for the class. But I did just sit there for the first two lessons daydreaming while the lecturer tried to teach a group of imperial system-taught students how to use the metric system! Needless to say, though, the pleasure was short lived and naturally the lessons got incredibly more difficult after that. But I still was very thankful for those first two lessons putting me more at ease!)

This story is part of our Metric System roundup!

Want to read the first story? Click here!

Want to read the roundup? Click here!