In these lessons, we will look into two methods that can be used for metric conversion problems. The first method uses the metric table and can also be regarded as a shortcut method. The second method uses the unit fraction method.
Related Topics:
Introduction to the Metric System
Metric Worksheets
Measurement Games
Method 1
The metric system uses prefixes to denote multiple of 10.
The following table shows some common prefixes.
Prefix 
kilo 
hecto 
deka 
unit 
deci 
centi 
milli 
Symbol 
k 
h 
da 

d 
c 
m 

1,000 
100 
10 
1
meter
liter
gram

0.1 
0.01 
0.001 
Each prefix differs by a multiple of 10 from the next prefix. When converting between the different units of measure, we look at the number of “jumps” between the prefixes of the two units and then multiply or divide by the powers of 10 accordingly (moving to the right would mean to multiply and moving to the left would mean to divide).
Example :
Convert 3 km to m
Solution:
There are 3 “jumps” to the right from kilometer to meter.
So, we multiply by 10 ^{3} = 1000
3 km = 3 × 1,000 = 3,000 m
Example:
Convert 20 mm to cm
Solution:
There is 1 “jump” to the left from millimeter to centimeter
So, we divide by 10.
20 mm = 20 ÷ 10 = 2 cm
How to perform metric conversion using the table method or shortcut method?
Examples:
1. 7m to cm
2. 15L to mL
3. 30000mg to g
How to convert metric units of weight without using a calculator?
The presentation focuses on conversion between kg, g, and mg.
Imagine a 1 kilogram(kg) tablet which is made up of a 1000 smaller gram(g) tablets which is in turn made up of 1000 even smaller milligram (mg) tablets.
Big to small: multiply
Small to big: divide
How to multiply and divide by 1000 in conversion of metric units?
This tutorial explains answers to exercises in converting metric units of weight. The exercises involve multiplying and dividing without a calculator.
How to convert to different metric units of measure for length, capacity, and mass?
The
metric system is widely used because it is based on the powers of 10. It allows for easy conversion between smaller and larger units.
The basic unit of length is the
meter(m). It is just over 1 yard.
The basic unit of weight is the
gram(g). One gram is the mass of 1 cubic centimeter of water.
The basic unit of capacity or volume is
liter(l). A liter equals 1000 cubic centimeters.
Examples:
Complete each conversion
1. 6.3km = ____ m
2. 62,300cm = ___ hm
3. 37,200g = ___ kg
4. 1.73hg = ___ dg
5. 93.7L = ___ mL
6. 62,300cL = ___ kL
How to use the metric staircase to convert units within the metric system?
Another method similar to the table method is to use the metric staircase. It is also called the ladder method.
How to use the metric staircase to convert between metric measurements?
When you go up the stairs to the left, move the decimal to the left.
When you go down the stairs to the right, move the decimal to the right.
Method 2
In this method, we multiply by a unit fraction in order to perform the metric conversion.
Example :
Convert 3 km to m
Solution:
Example:
Convert 20 mm to cm
Solution:
How to perform metric conversion using the unit fraction method?
How to use the unit fraction method for metric unit conversion?
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