Last week, my students took a few minutes to measure their heights. In partners, they found a couple spots around the classroom that had tape measures attached to the wall. Results were coming in fairly quickly. A few 170's, lots of 160's and several 150's. These are grade 8 students and the tallest of them I believe was 179cm.

Simple. But were there #anyqs?

Actually just one question, but it came up too often to ignore.

*Student: Mr. Rowinsky, I'm 163cm tall, how tall is that?*
For American readers this Canadian nuance might be new. There are certain things where the metric system is quite natural to us. And by natural I mean the first thing that comes to mind.

Travel distances for example. (Toronto to Montreal is 550 km).

Another is speed limits. (100km/h is a common speed limit).

Track and Field events. (In school they run the 100m, 200m etc.)

But there are two glaring exceptions.

Personal heights and personal weights.

When it comes to answering the question,

**How tall are you?**, centimetres are not the first choice. And for,

**How much do you weigh?**, pounds will often trump the poor kilogram.

Hence our lesson:

**Converting from Metric to Imperial**
You must unlearn, what you have learned.

Some points to make about this lesson:

**1)** They were all eager to see how tall they were.

**2) **Most walked away learning for the first time, how tall they were in centimetres.

**3)** The question 'How tall am I in feet?' (& inches) only came up after they were done.

**4)** In all 6 classes this same question came up instinctivly, without prompting.

**5)** I would like to thank the Empire and also my neighbours to the south for the long lasting influence and cultural dominance that provides me with this mathematical opportunity. I'm serious. No snark intended.

Perplexity (as Dan likes to call it) was high and so too was engagement.

I put 163cm on the board and asked students to convert it to metres.

1.63m appeared on most pages within the 30 second mark.

But how about feet (and inches)?

Any guesses?

We started with the TOO HIGH guesses. Someone called out 11 feet, 100 feet (accompanied by laughs), and 6 feet.

How about TOO LOW? 3 feet, 1 foot, and 5 feet were called out.

So we had our range (5 feet to 6 feet).

"What information can I give you that would help?" I asked the students.

We agreed on two:

1 inch = 2.54 cm

and

1 foot = 12 inches.

Small groups went to work. And the work that came out led to some great discussion. And this resulted in some lessons for the students as well as the teacher.

*...here are a few*
Students

1) There is more than one way to get the answer.

2) We can learn from the mistakes we make along the way.

3) Feet is one measurement and inches is another (5.3 feet is not 5'3")

Teacher

1) There is

*way* more than one way to get the answer

2) I was surprised to see that no students used the "f-word", formula. (No one came up to me and asked for a formula to solve. Instead they went to work to solve it.)

3) 5 feet 3 inches was a common response and students had difficulty getting over that 1 tenth of a foot is not 1 inch. This came to light with a 0.5 feet discussion.

Here are

~~two~~ some student samples to consider.

Which can we consider a candidate for a

Michael Pershan entry?

And now back to:

In answer to my first

my first blog post where I posed this question, '

**When I asked the 130 students "What is Math", what were the 6 most popular words used in their response/definition?'**
The top 6 were:

#6 - Life

#5 - Problems

#4 - Shapes

#3 - Equations

#2 - Operations (although I included the quartet of multiplying, dividing, adding and subtracting all in one. There is a 5th operation that was popular "and stuff" as in when you are multiplying and dividing and stuff.)

and finally

#1 - Numbers

*honourable mention goes to the following student responses:*
"Math is Math" ~ for humour

"Math is Life" ~ for philosophical

"Math is for problems that need to be solved." ~ for truth

I suppose it was ambitious of me to try to get a tonne (metric) of comments to my first ever blog post, although I expected at least one.

colon apostrophe open bracket

In an effort to cheer myself up, here's a

wordle cloud for most popular words my students used to answer

**'What is Math?'**