Imperial Units and quick conversion to metric.

Whilst schools do not generally teach imperial units, unfortunately many of the public still use them.

These are the imperial units still in use:

Mile.

A mile is a unit of distance and is about 1 600 metres long ( a little over 1.5 km).

5 miles is approximately 8 kilometres.

Pint.

A pint measures capacity (volume) and is about 570ml (a little over half a litre).

One litre is approximately 13/4 pints.

Gallon.

A gallon is a unit of capacity and is about 4.5 litres.

Foot.

A foot is a unit of length and is about 30cm long.

Yard

A yard is a unit of length and is about 91 cm.

Inch.

An inch is a unit of length and is about 21/2 cm long.

Pound.

A pound is a unit of mass and is about half a kilogram.

Two pounds (more accurately 2.2 pounds) is about one kilogram.

Ounce

An ounce is a unit of mass and is about 30g.

“Unfortunate” Imperial Units

I find it unfortunate that you feel that British units of measure are something to be “coped” with rather than a proud reminder of being British.

I have been teaching for 42 years and always teach Imperial units alongside the metric ones. When the trendy teachers gave up imperial units they had to invent a new mathematical topic called “Bases” in order to teach a skill that we all grew up with. Now children cannot cope with TIME MEASUREMENT so why not metricate that too

Hardly trendy! I follow with an extract from the UK metric association:

Measurement affects us all when we work, buy food, fill up the car with petrol, weigh ourselves, go for a medical check-up, buy a property, go out for a drink, go for a walk or tend the garden. Modern Britain needs the best set of measures available.

In 1668, the distinguished scientist and philosopher, Bishop John Wilkins, founder of the Royal Society, proposed a system of measurement which contained the essential features of metric. His “Standard” unit was almost exactly one metre and like the metre was to be used with decimal multiples and submultiples. He proposed decimal units of volume and weight similar to the modern litre and kilogram. However, it was in France that the first practical application of his ideas was implemented – leading to the modern metric system, properly known as the International System of Units.

Over 140 years ago, in 1862, a House of Commons Select Committee unanimously recommended adoption of metric units for public administration. They were not terrified of taking in newfangled measurements from the “old rival” – France – but simply saw lots of advantages in having more modern units.

Although this was in the heyday of the British Empire, it was known that Imperial units were anything but ‘made in Britain’ being largely imported from the Romans, Saxons and the French. Indeed British Victorian scientists enthusiastically embraced metric units. These scientists came up with some important additions to the metric system that we take for granted today – including mega- for one million, micro- for one millionth.

Metric units are used in most countries of the world because they are so practical. They are decimal, the different units fit together properly and metric calculations are really easy. Metric units are not just for engineers and scientists but for architects, cooks, DIYers, gardeners, nurses and mountaineers.

In 1971 the UK very successfully adopted decimal currency throwing aside the Roman-style ‘old money’. In 1965 it was decided also to replace Roman – style measures with metric and since then Britain has adopted metric in many walks of life. The vast majority of manufacturing is metric, letters and parcels are weighed in grams, health records are metric, children learn metric at school, film sizes are metric and our maps are created using metric. Ultimately a complete conversion is inevitable.

Sadly, while countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa managed to change over from imperial by about 1980. Britain has got roughly half way and got stuck. This has meant that the full benefits of using metric have not been realised. We suffer from today’s mess of two systems.

Imperial units are part of the national curriculum and are covered in the KS3 framework for mathematics. Most (if not all) UK secondary schools will teach them as part of measures and mensuration.

Imperial units are covered in KS2 as well. To achieve level 5 children need to be able to convert between familiar imperial and metric units!!

So still importnat surely