Sunday, July 1, 2012

Google units conversion trick

If you've ever had to teach someone how to convert units from one form to another, you probably already know that Google lets you do queries like: 

   [ 33 C in F ] 

... and discover that 33C is pretty warm.  

And if you're a regular reader, you know that Google handles most units--English system weights and lengths, temperatures, metric volumes / lengths / etc etc.  

But a nice trick for teachers to know is how to make something personally relevant to your student.  

Suppose your student is 5'3" -- you can convert that to metric with: 

   [ 5.25 feet in meters ] 

and find it's 1.6 meters.  
Great.  That's straightforward enough.  

NOW... suppose you're teaching the concept of a "league" (as in the title of Jules Verne's epic "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea").  

One way to make this personally relevant is to convert 1 league into "student lengths."  

   [ 1 league / 1.6 meters ] 

You can also show the basic algebra to illustrate why 3,472.5 is the number of "student lengths" in 1 league.  But it's nice to know that you can use this little trick to convert from any unit into appropriate other units... including personally relevant ones.  

For instance, I can never remember how long a rod is.  But if I convert it thusly, dividing 1 rod by my height (in meters): 

   [ 1 rod / 1.87 meters ] 

I'll forever remember that 1 rod is 2.68 "Dans" high! 

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