Strand IV
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Physical Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand IV
Content Standard 1
All students will measure and describe the things around us; explain what the world around us is made of; identify and describe forms of energy; and explain how electricity and magnetism interact with matter (Matter and Energy)


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1
Middle School


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1/Middle School
Benchmark 2
Explain when length, mass, weight, density, area, volume, or temperature are appropriate to describe the size of an object or the amount of a substance.

Benchmark Clarification

Scientists use specific tools to measure specific properties of matter. They record these measurements in standardized units (metric units).

It is important for students to become knowledgeable about the appropriate tools that are used to measure each property and the appropriate measurements that are used to describe the property. For instance, one wouldn’t measure a table with a balance and record the measurement in miles; the table would be measured with a metric tape and described in centimeters.

Students will:

  • Construct a table of physical properties of matter, the units used to describe each property, and the tools used to measure each property
  • Use the appropriate tools to measure the size of an object and the amount of a substance in the object

See Mass.

See Weight.

See Using measuring devices, (SCI.I.1.MS.4).

See Common substances (SCI.IV.1.E.1).

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 2
Key Concept
Appropriate metric (SI) units.

Measurement tools:

  • balances
  • spring scales
  • measuring cups or graduated cylinders
  • thermometers
  • metric ruler


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 2
Real World Context
Common substances hot and cold substances:

  • ice, snow, cold water
  • hot water, steam, cold air, hot air


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 2
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do we measure matter?

Focus Question: What is the appropriate equipment and metric units used to describe the size and amount of a substance?

The teacher should construct a large table listing the properties of matter, the tools that are used to measure each property, and the units of measurement that are used to describe each property. The table should be posted, so students can refer to it throughout these lessons.

Students will have misconceptions about English units and standardized/metric units. It is important that students understand that standardized units are used in science and industry around the world. Have students discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using standardized units.

  • property of matter
  • tools
  • standardized units of measurement
  • English units of measurement
  • length
  • metric ruler/tape
  • centimeter/meter/kilometer
  • foot/yard/ mile
  • width
  • metric ruler/tape
  • foot/yard
  • surface area
  • calculator
  • square meters
  • square feet
  • volume
  • calculator
  • graduated cylinder/metric measuring cup
  • cubic centimeters/milliliters
  • cup/quart/gallon
  • weight
  • spring scale
  • newtons
  • pounds
  • Mass
  • Balance
  • Grams
  • Pounds
  • Temperature
  • Thermometer
  • Celsius
  • Fahrenheit
  • Density
  • Calculator
  • Liquid = g/cm3
  • Solid = g/ml
  • Pounds/cubic foot

The teacher should set up workstations with the following tools: metric ruler, meter stick, graduated cylinder, metric measuring cup (with printed measures on the side), spring scale, balance, and thermometer. Have students construct a data table, measure a variety of commonly found solids and liquids (water, wood block, box, vegetable oil, rubbing alcohol, etc.), and record their measurements in their data tables.

Students in groups will discuss their results and possible reasons for differences in their measurements. Students should share their observations and conclusions with the class.

(Extension: Challenge students to find the volume, mass, and density of carbon dioxide that is formed when mixing vinegar and baking soda.) See SCI.IV.1.MS.1.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.MS.1), (SCI.I.1.MS.3), (SCI.I.1.MS.4).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.MS.1), (SCI.II.1.MS.2), (SCI.II.1.MS.3).


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 2
Assessment Example

The teacher will give students a variety of objects. Students will choose six objects each and complete the given chart. Various measuring tools will be available for them to use. Before each measurement is made, students should estimate the measurement and include the appropriate unit of measurement. Objects could include different types of breakfast cereal of different shapes, dry and wet, water and different types of soda in varying quantities, different kinds of candy, powdered and liquid laundry detergent, classroom materials, and containers of different sorts.


Physical property

Actual measurement

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Correctness of units

Contains two or fewer correct units.

Contains three to four correct units.

Contains five or six correct units.

Contains all correct units with additional objects measured.

Appropriateness of tool

Contains two or fewer correct choices of tools.

Contains three to four correct measurements (+/- 2 units).

Contains five or six correct choices of tools.

Contains all correct choices of tools with additional objects measured.

Correctness of measurement

Contains two or fewer correct measurements.

Contains three to four correct choices of tools.

Contains five to six correct measurements (+/- 2 units).

All objects are measured correctly within +/- 2 units.


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 2


Molecular movement at different temperatures.

Sussman, Beverley. “Building Atoms Shell By Shell.” Science Scope, April 1993.

VanCleave, Janice. Janice VanCleave’s Molecules.Wiley, 1993.

Weight on other planets + explanation of weight & mass differences.