Summer can be a fun time for outdoor play and outdoor measuring. How far can you thrown a frisbee? How far can you kick a ball? How long does it take to ride your bike around the block? Invent your own Measuring Olympics events.
A cooler filled with ice helps keep food fresh on a picnic or camping trip. Should you empty the water out as the ice melts? Put an ice cube in each of two empty cups. Poke a hole in the bottom of one. How long does it take for the ice to melt? Does it make a difference if the water stays in the cup? Are you sure the two ice cubes were the same size at the start? Try it again and make sure the two ice cubes are the same.
The Moon is about 1/4 the size of the Earth. A two inch tennis ball for the Moon would need an eight inch globe for the Earth. How far apart should they be to make a scale model of the Earth and Moon? They should be 239 inches apart. Can you get a ball and globe and set up this model? Are you surprised at how far apart they are?
The ruby-throated hummingbird is the smallest bird in eastern North America. It is only 8.9 cm long. Adults have a mass of about 3.1 grams. Try to find an object with the same mass so you can feel how light this is. What object did you find? The tallest bird in North America, at 150 cm, is the whooping crane. It has a mass of about 6 kilograms (15 pounds). Try to find an object that has the same mass as this. What did you find?
People with lawns seem to spend a lot of time mowing grass. Keep a record of how tall the grass is. Measure it right after it has been mowed and then every day until someone cuts it again. How much did it grow? What was the average growth per day?
Get a dandelion flower head that has gone to seed. Hold one seed with its parachute in your hand. Blow it into the air. How long does it take to land on the classroom floor or the ground? How far did it go?
Outdoor temperatures are always changing as the seasons change. Try to take the temperature at the same outdoor spot and at the same time of day for a month. Keep a chart of the results. What do you notice?
As spring temperatures rise, weeds grow, flowers open, insects become active. But this does not all happen at the same time. Take temperatures on different sides of a building at different times of the day. Look for differences in the plants and small animals you see. Make a chart to record your data. Can you find a pattern in the temperature, sunlight and what plants and insects are doing?
Put an empty coffee can outside where it can catch rainwater when it rains. Bring it in after it rains. How deep is the water in the can? How many ounces or milliliters of water are in the can?
The spring peeper is a tiny frog with a big voice. About 3 cm long, the male frogs call so loudly in the spring that they can be heard up to a kilometer and a half away. Measure 3 cm on a piece of paper to see how big this frog is. Go outside with a partner. When one of you whistles, how far away can it be heard? Measure the distance. Are spring peepers louder for their size than you are?
Buildings can tell you a lot about the measuring system that was used by carpenters and other workers when a building was made. Measure some hall tiles, doors, floor tiles and other parts of your school. Do you think the workers used "standard" or metric measuring units when the school was built? Why do you think this?
In the early spring, some people make maple syrup by boiling down the sap from maple trees. It takes about 40 cups of sap to make 1 cup of syrup. Put 40 cups of water in a bucket or large pan. Put 1 cup of water next to it. Lift each one carefully. Draw a picture, write a story, or tell someone how you would get all that sap from where the trees are to where you could boil the sap into syrup.
Some things just have to be memorized to help you every day. You have to learn the alphabet, you have to learn multipication tables. What part of the multiplication table can you say from memory the fastest? What part takes you the longest? How long does it take to say it?
The Winter Olympics have some neat sports like bobsledding. According to the rules, a two-man bobsled must weigh at least 170 kg without crew and be no more than 390 kg with crew. A women's 2 person sled must be no more than 340 kg. The sleds can be no longer than 2.70 meters and no wider than 0.67 meters. Try measuring out how big this is. If a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, how much do these sleds weigh?
Why are winter clothes usually dark colored? On a sunny day, lay a piece of black construction paper next to a piece of white construction paper in a sunny spot. Every 5 minutes, measure the temperature under each one. Does one warm up more than the other? If yes, by how much? Can you show the results as a graph or chart to help others see what you found out? Do it.
To find the volume of a box, you can see how many cups, quarts, or even liters of sand or macaroni it takes to fill it up. Or measure the height, the width, and the length of the box. Multiply these three numbers and you would have the number of cubic inches or cubic centimeters the box can hold. Try this with a shoe box. How can you convert cubic inches or cubic centimeters to quarts or liters?
Which do you think has a greater mass, ice or snow? How can you find out? Investigate and see if you are right.
Find a part of your hand that measures 1 centimeter. Write down what part it is. Find part of your hand that measures 1 inch and write this down. Can you find part of you that is a meter? If yes, what?
How long can you hold your breath? Write down your prediction. Make sure you are sitting down before you try it. How close was your prediction? Try timing other things such as how many times you breathe in 1 minute or how long it takes for your heart to beat 100 times.
The Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower to their new home in the colonies. Historians think the ship was 30 meters long, 8 meters wide and its stern rose about 8 meters above the water. Measure this out on the floor or playground. Was this a very large boat for more than 100 people to cross the Atlantic Ocean with all their belongings
How cold is ice? Find the temperature of an ice cube. Let it melt enough to find the temperature of some of the water it turns into as it melts. What temperature is the water? Check again as the last of the ice melts. What is the temperature then? How much did it change?
When the weather is cold, a cup of hot chocolate or another warm drink can really warm you up. How much hot chocolate will your favorite mug hold? How much liquid will the mug your teacher uses hold? What is the size of the biggest coffee mug in school? What is the mass of each mug when it is empty and when it is full of liquid?
To be comfortable, a piece of furniture has to be the right size so it fits the human body. How high off the floor are most chair seats? What is the typical measurement, front to back, of most chairs? Do these measurements seem to make sense for the measurements of typical adults? Do they make sense for students in your class? How can you find out?
In Canada, gas stations sell gasoline by the liter. In the United States, gasoline is still sold by the gallon. Get a liter bottle and a gallon jug. Which is bigger? Measure how much bigger it is.
Measure the diameter, circumference, volume (with seeds and pulp taken out), and mass of several pumpkins. Graph your findings. As the size of pumpkins increases, do all these measurements increase at the same rate?
Every sport has its equipment and athletes care about how much their equipment weighs. Heavy equipment can slow down a runner, cyclist or other athlete. How much weight are you carrying around with you each day? Weigh your book bag. Weigh your shoes. At home, weigh yourself without clothes, dressed for school, and dressed to go outside in the cold. Make a chart to show what you learned about the weight of your "equipment".
Schoolrooms can show ranges of temperature as it gets cool outdoors and the furnace turns on indoors. What is the warmest temperature you can find in your classroom? Where did you find this temperature? What is the coolest temperature you can find in the room? Where did you find this temperature? Why do you think these two places were so different?
Time can be measured too. How long does it take for the class to get ready for lunch? How long does it take to start up the class computer? How long is your longest science lesson this week? How long is your longest English Language Arts lesson this week?
How much does your longest pencil weigh? (A more scientific way to say this would be, what is its mass?) What is the mass of your shortest pencil? Do you have a separate eraser? Find its mass now, in January, and in June. Does its mass change much?
Summer can be a fun time for outdoor play and outdoor measuring. How far can you throw a Frisbee? How far can you kick a soccer ball? How long does it take you to ride your bike around the block? Invent your own Olympic measuring events.