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The Measures of Science



The Measures of Science
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.65

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    scaling, sundial, metric, customary, numerical, planetary, volume, estimate, measurement, various, judgments, based, imagine, extremely, clocks, grams


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The Measures of Science
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Imagine a world where we did not know the boiling point of water. What if we could not record growth of plants and animals? How would you know the weekend had begun if you could not keep count of days, weeks, and months? Measurement has been an important part of our lives for centuries, and it is the reason that scientists are able to compare objects and events quantitatively. Scientists rely on measuring to describe comparisons numerically by using standard tools, models, scaling, sampling, and estimating.
 
2     Before standard tools like rulers, clocks, and scales, people used everyday objects to help find measurements or quantities of other objects. A simple example would be using an average adult foot to represent one foot in English or customary units of measurement. Large stones may have been used in simple balances to help measure the weight of objects. Even the sundial, the earliest form of the clock, used the shadows from the sun to help keep track of time. Today scientists use various tools like rulers, graduated cylinders, and scales to measure in English units (i.e., inches, feet, etc.) and metric units (i.e. centimeters, millimeters, etc.). Graduated cylinders are used to measure the volume of small objects in milliliters. Scales can be used to measure the weight of objects in grams and milligrams. Scientists also use thermometers and barometers to measure changes in the earth's temperature and changes in its air pressure over time.
 
3     Scientists build models and use scaling to represent objects that are far too large to show at their true size. Models are smaller objects that are built to represent the detail of larger objects. Scientists use smaller measurements that are in proportion or scaled to the measurements of the larger object the model represents. Scaling is also done to represent extremely large distances between objects, such as the planets in our solar system. Another example of scaling would be when architects build models of buildings. These models may have a scale where every inch of height stands for a certain amount of feet in height for the real buildings. When scientists build models, they are providing a visual image that helps others to understand scientific concepts (such as planetary motion) and objects (such as high speed trains).

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