Measurement: Level 1

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The key idea of measurement at level 1 is that objects have measureable attributes that can be compared.

Measuring is fundamentally about making comparisons.  Measurement involves a comparison of an attribute of an object with another object or unit that has the same attribute.

At level 1 students need to develop their understanding of the measurable attributes of objects.  For example, is this bag heavier, lighter or about the same as this one?  No measurement is required but some way of comparing the two bags needs to be devised.   Some attributes, such as length and area, are able to be compared by placing the objects directly in line with another.  This is called direct comparison. Other attributes, such as capacity or circumference, may require an indirect method, such as using water to fill one container and then pouring it into the other container.  This is called indirect comparison.

The decision about using direct or indirect comparison depends on both the attribute and the situation.  While the length of two objects can often be compared by directly lining objects up there are some situations where an indirect comparison is necessary.  For example, a piece of string may be used as an intermediary to indirectly compare the height of an object with its circumference.

Students at level 1 should explore comparisons involving the attributes of length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), time and temperature.

Indirect and direct comparison allows you to state which of the objects being compared is longer/wider/heavier but does not allow you to quantify the “size” of the object or the “size” of the difference between the objects.

Once students understand the attributes of objects that can be measured they need to understand what units of measure might be used for the particular attribute in question.  The most easily understood units are those where you can use multiple copies of the unit to physically cover, match or fill the attribute measured.  For example, you can lay toothpicks along the length of the book or can cover the area of the desk with business cards.  Measuring the same object with different-sized units helps students understand that the unit used is as important as the attribute being measured.

This key idea develops from the informal comparison of objects during pre-school years.

This key idea is extended to the key idea of measurement of level 2 where the students use non-standard and simple standard units to measure the attributes of objects.