Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hot Wheels STEM Lesson Plan - Measurement

Introduction and background

Early on in the year, I always spend a little bit of time discussing measurement including the metric system and giving the students the opportunity to do some measuring.  This is important since we will be taking measurements in labs throughout the year as well as using the metric system, which the students are usually  not that familiar with.  This lab allows the students to use some measuring instruments.  I also have them measure the cars using the metric system and have them do some simple metric conversions.  We discuss how that measuring a Hot Wheels car in meters would be silly and that millimeters or centimeters would be a better way to express it's dimensions.  However, if we are using any of these measurements for a calculation like say, velocity, we would want it to be in meters, since millimeters per second is not a common unit for velocity.  This is why being able to convert from one unit to another is important.  You could have them do as many conversions in this lab as you want, and even use English units as well, but I just have them convert between a few metric units.

The Lab

The purpose of the lab is to let the students practice using a ruler and a scale to measure the height, length, width, and weight of their Hot Wheels car.  They will take those measurements using a metric unit and then convert that to other common metric units.

 The lab sheet that I use looks something like this.

Hot Wheels Measurement Lab Sheet


  • I tell the students to measure the widest, highest and longest points on their cars.  If they had to fit it into a box, what is the smallest the box could be and still fit it in.
  • I do check their measurements and mark them wrong if they are off by more than 2 mm.  This can be time consuming because I need to know the measurements of all their cars, but I use some calipers to measure their cars and can do it very quickly.

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