## Sunday, July 1, 2012

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!