2010-10-11

Getting in the Metric Mind-set

Americans have used customary units for centuries (though, officially, SI was made the basis for our units in 1893). We are habitually familiar with a certain system. The point is, we need to retrain our brains into a different way of thinking about measurements before we can fully adapt to or even adopt a new system; some people may find this more difficult than others.

The first step is to consciously accept "the Metric mind-set"; find a reason to value the use of SI measurements (e.g. base 10 counting, international communication/cooperation, etc.) [further reading: Metrication in the United States - Wikipedia]

Once you've acknowledged some value in the use of the metric system, I recommend observing where SI units are already used....
- Passing your local bank, try to remember the Celsius temperature display and how it feels.
- Pick up that large soft drink bottle at the grocery store and remind yourself, "Wow. This is a 2 LITERS."
- Look closely at the label on a gallon of milk.... How many milliliters does it contain? How many liters is that?
- Convert the distance of your commute from feet and miles into meters and kilometers. (Even if it's just 2 or 3 meters from the bed to the desk.)

These small thoughts and/or conversions will help you see how the things around you "measure up" to the International System of Units.

Tomorrow, I'll begin sharing some ways you can remember "key conversion points" to help you estimate equivalents in your head on-the-fly.
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