• Measurement

    NASA Connect: The Measurement of All Things: Tools of the Aeronautics Trade. Story line: Students explore concepts of measurement and tools used in measuring things, while learning "what" and "how" engineers and scientists use measurement during the process of developing, designing, and testing airplanes.

    Background Narrative

    The need for very accurate measurements goes back at least to the time of the great pyramids. Clearly the ancient Egyptians used the basics of surveying to build the pyramids with the precision we see. The concepts of measuring angles and lengths must have been well developed at that time.

    In order to measure anything, an essential feature is a common measurement system. In this country we use both the metric system and the English system. The rest of the world, including England, uses the metric system. Students will see, when using computer modeling systems, that they can switch instantly between the two systems.

    Once a model is entered into the computer, not only is the student’s ability to visualize the item dramatically improved, but the model can now be subjected to extensive analysis. Working from the computer model, an analysis can be performed by the computer in a few days that would have taken weeks or months by hand calculation.

    In this section, students will learn to use various measuring tools ranging from a simple ruler to a highly accurate micrometer. Also, they will construct a simple model and have the computer do an analysis of several physical properties of the model.

    In all traditional measuring systems, short distance units are based on the dimensions of the human body. The
    inch represents the width of a thumb; in fact, in many languages, the word for "inch" is also the word for "thumb." The foot (12 inches) was originally the length of a human foot, although it has evolved to be longer than most people's feet. The yard (3 feet) seems to have gotten its start in England as the name of a 3-foot measuring stick, but it is also understood to be the distance from the tip of the nose to the end of the middle finger of the outstretched hand. Finally, if you stretch your arms out to the sides as far as possible, your total "arm span," from one fingertip to the other, is a fathom (6 feet).

    Show Microsoft PowerPoint Early Measurement History (found in 'H' drive)

    Measurement Websites to Review

    Measure it Centimeters  Level 1 Measure it Centimeters  Level 2 Measure it Centimeters  Level 3
    Measure It Inches Level 1 Measure It Inches Level 2 Measure It Inches Level 3
    Measure It Inches Level 4 On Line Measuring Angles What's My Angle?



    Take an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of drawing paper and fold it in half along the long axis (hotdog). Open it up. How many parts do you have? answer is 2 label the fold line as 1/2

    Fold your paper again so it is folded into halves. Now fold it in half along the same axis. Open it up. How many parts do you have? answer is 4 label the new fold lines as 1/4, 2/4, and 3/4. *Note how the fold line previously labeled 1/2 also has the fraction 2/4!

    Fold the piece of paper back up along the fold lines. Now fold this section in half again along the same axis. How many parts do you have? answer is 8! label the fold lines 1/8, 2/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, and 7/8. * Note 2/8 = 1/4, 4/8 = 2/4 = 1/2, 6/8 = 3/4!

    What is this unit of measurement called that we have just made? One paper.

    Bible Measurements

    Handy Engineering Conversions (Goofy Measurements)

    ~ Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter. Eskimo Pi
    ~ 2000 pounds of Chinese soup Won Ton
    ~ 1 millionth of a mouthwash 1 microscope
    ~ Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement 1 bananosecond
    ~Weight an evangelist carries with God 1 billigram
    ~ Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour Knot-furlong
    ~ 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone 1 Rod Serling
    ~ Half of a large intestine 1 semicolon
    ~ 1000 aches 1 megahurtz
    ~ Basic unit of laryngitis 1 hoarsepower
    ~ Shortest distance between 2 jokes A straight line
    ~ 453.6 graham crackers 1 pound cake
    ~ 1 million-million microphones 1 megaphone
    ~ 1 million bicycles 2 megacycles
    ~ 365.25 days 1 unicycle
    ~ 2000 mockingbirds 2 kilomockingbirds
    ~ 10 cards 1 decacards
    ~ 1 kilogram of falling figs 1 Fig Newton
    ~ 1000 grams of wet socks 1 litrehosen
    ~ 1 millionth of a fish 1 microfiche
    ~ 1 trillion pins 1 terrapin
    ~ 10 rations 1 decoration
    ~ 2 monograms 1 diagram
    ~ 8 nickels 2 paradigms
    ~ 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital 1 I.V. League
    ~ 100 senators Not 1 decision


    Accuracy: Degree of conformity of a measurement to a standard or true value.

    Analysis: The separation of a complex object into its component parts and an examination of the relationship of those parts.

    Architects Scale: A triangular scale containing 11 scales. The distance in inches (or fractions of an inch) which will equal one foot, defines each scale.

    Area: The number of square units that are contained within the interior of a figure; Length x width

    Caliper: A measuring device that can be adjusted to determine the thickness, diameter, or distance between two surfaces.

    Computer: An electronic device for performing calculations and other functions.

    Decimal: Expressed as a number to the right of a decimal point, it represents a proper fraction in which the denominator is a power of 10.

    Engineers Scale: A triangular scale having 2 scales on each of its sides calibrated in multiples of 10.

    English Standard: A system of measurement developed in old England that is still in use in places in the world today. Units include inches, ounces, cups etc.

    Estimate: An opinion or guess as to the size or extent of an object.

    Fraction: A numerical expression of the number of parts to the hole. (E.g. 3/16)

    Gauge: An instrument for measuring or testing mechanical accuracy.

    Increments: In measurement, the fraction of an inch that the ruler is divided into; one of a series of regular consecutive additions.

    Linear: Length measurements associated with lines.

    Mass: The measurement of the amount of material an object contains.

    Measure: The act of obtaining the dimensions, capacity or amount of something.

    Metric: A system of measurement based on the meter as the primary unit.

    Micrometer: An instrument used to measure minute distances utilizing a finely threaded screw.

    Protractor: An instrument for measuring and laying out angles.

    Ruler: A smooth edge strip of wood, metal or plastic, used for measuring and as an aid to drawing straight lines.

    Scale: An instrument consisting of a strip with one or more sets of spaces graduated and numbered on its surface for measuring or laying off distances or dimensions. Drawings or models done larger or smaller than the original item but in exact proportion to it.

    Tape Measure: A narrow strip of metal or cloth marked off into units for measuring.

    Transit: An optical telescope mounted so that it can be used to measure angles and inclinations.

    Units: A determined quantity adopted as a standard unit of measurement.

    Volume: Space occupied as measured in cubic units.


    History and Purpose


    Early Measurement History 

    Do you know what the following mean?


    Clean Special Characters from Word Text or HTML Code
    The "Digit"

    The digit is represented by a finger. It's measurement of ¾" is determined by measuring the width of your finger at the bottom knuckle.

    The "Inch"

    The inch was determined by the measurement of the width of your thumb at the knuckle. Inch comes from the English word ‘ynce' meaning 1/12th. It's measurement is 1".

    The "Palm"

    The palm was the width found by placing your 4 fingers [digits] together. The palm measures 3" [¾ + ¾ + ¾ + ¾]

    The "Hand"

    The hand is the width of the palm and the thumb together. It's measurement is 4" [palm is 3" and thumb is 1"]. Horses are measured by hands [16 1/4 hands to the top of the back at the shoulder blade].

    The "hand/span"

    The hand/span is the measure from the tip of your pinky to the tip of your thumb when your hand is stretched out. This measurement is equal to 9".

    The "Foot"

    The foot is attached to the bottom of your leg. It's measurement is equal to 12". Please remember that the word ynce meant 1/12th, thus there are 12 inches in one foot.

    The "Cubit"

    The measurement used by the Egyptians to build the pyramids. The cubit was defined as the measurement from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger when your arm is extended. This measurement is equal to 18". A cubit is equal to 2 hand-spans. The word cubit comes from the latin word cubitum meaning ‘elbow'.

    The "Yard"

    A yard is the distance from your nose to your outstretched middle finger when your arm is stretched out. A yard is equal to 36" or 3 feet.

    The "Fathom"

    Used by seaman. For the most part it was used to measure the depth of water so that boats would not run aground and people would be stranded. The fathom is the measure from fingertip to fingertip when your arms are stretched sideways as far as they will go. You sometimes see a rope and thread measured this way...The fathom is equal to 6 feet. Also, the distance from fingertip to fingertip with your arms stretched out is known as your wingspan AND is also your height!

    The "Pace"

    This term was used by the Roman army to judge speed. The term is still used quite frequently during various types of foot races. The pace is the distance from one step to another. The pace is equal to 5 feet.

    The "Mile"

    The mile was measured as 1000 paces of the Roman army. 1000 paces would be 5,000 feet J which is a little short of 5,280 feet of an actual mile.