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 Metric Conversions

The metric system or International System of Units (SI) is based on seven base units for seven base quantities that are mutually independent. The quantities are: length (meter), mass (kilogram), time (second), electric current (ampere), thermodynamic temperature (Kelvin), amount of substance (mole) and luminous intensity (candela). All other units are derived from the base ones.

Level 1- The Staircase Method of Conversions-

Highlight the box on the right

 500 mL= 0.500L 1600m= 1.60km 234 kg= 234,000g 5.5 cm= 0.00055hm 14 km= 1400dam 0.049 L= 49mL Staircase method instructions-Look at the prefix you have and count how many steps you need to get to the prefix you want.

Then move the decimal that many steps and in the same direction to convert the number to the new unit.

Example  52 mm to km

starting at milli- it is 6 steps to the right to get to kilo

move the decimal six places to the left

so 52 becomes 0.000052km

Try these conversions using the staircase.

Level 2- Metric Conversions using the Factor Label Method

Using the factor label method and NYS Reference Table C (a Prefix Table).  What you need to know is the prefix is the base unit times that factor. So when you set up the conversion just know that the factor always goes with the base unit and the unit that contains the prefix is always 1. Highlight the box on the right

 600 mL= 0.600L 9,000.cm= 0.09000km

Even more metric prefixes

PrefixSymbolFactor
yottaY1024 = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
zettaZ1021 = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
exaE1018 = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
petaP1015 = 1,000,000,000,000,000
teraT1012 = 1,000,000,000,000
gigaG109 = 1,000,000,000
megaM106 = 1,000,000
kilok103 = 1,000
hectoh102 = 100
decid10-1 = 0.1
centic10-2 = 0.01
millim10-3 = 0.001
microµ10-6 = 0.000,001
nanon10-9 = 0.000,000,001
picop10-12 = 0,000,000,000,001
femtof10-15 = 0.000,000,000,000,001
attoa10-18 = 0.000,000,000,000,000,001
zeptoz10-21 = 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,001
yoctoy10-24 = 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001

Power of 10 Video (2 min) Florida State University