When I was a child in the 70s, the United States was gearing up to switch from customary units to the metric system. Consequently, we learned the metric system right along with standard units of measure. We also saw advertisements like this one on television: Sadly, the metric conversion never fully took place in the United States, and today’s students are still learning two systems of measurement; customary units (inches, feet, yards) as well as the metric system. Personally, I have always found the customary units we use in the United States a bit cumbersome, especially when it is necessary to convert smaller units to larger units or vice versa. How much easier it is when using the metric system.
Or, if you need help remembering the metric prefixes, this is a useful mnemonic:
So, if the metric system is so much easier to work with, why are we still filling our gas tanks with gallons of gas, rather than liters of gas? Driving miles instead of kilometers? Measuring height in feet and inches instead of centimeters? The reasons are many and have to do with politics, our history, expense, and plain old resistance to change. “That seemed about to change in 1971, when a U.S. National Bureau of Standards report titled “A Metric America” recommended that the U.S. transition to the metric system over the course of 10 years” (Harris, 2014). In 1975, Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act, but the act left it up to businesses and individuals to choose whether or not to convert. As a result, the move to switch to metric seemed to fizzle, leaving our country using a mishmash of measurements. Will the United States ever make the switch? Stay tuned! Try this quiz to see how you measure up!
source: Harris, William. “Why isn\u0027t the U.S. on the metric system?” 04 October 2011. HowStuffWorks.com. 15 July 2014.