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How to Do Volume Conversions

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Did you know that, by using a special number, you can convert from feet to meters? You will learn what this special number is in this lesson. You'll also learn what other special numbers there are for converting between other units.

The Steps

In the United States, people use the Imperial system of measuring things such as feet, inches, and pounds. But in most other countries in the world, people use the Metric system for measuring things such as centimeters, meters, and grams. So, if you use feet and inches to describe how big something is, to people living in most other countries, your description won't mean much as they don't think in terms of feet and inches. To help you out, you'll first need to convert your feet and inches into centimeters and meters. In this lesson, we'll take a look at doing volume conversions.

For example, say you are working on a job with a multi-national company that makes large fish tanks. You need to communicate with a worker in a different country that you need to make a fish tank that will hold 10 cubic feet of water. Before you get on the phone, you'll need to perform a volume conversion to cubic meters so that the measurement will make sense to your coworker.

To do this conversion, follow these steps.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Conversion Number

First, you'll need to figure out your conversion number to convert your feet into meters. You can look this up in math textbooks or online. Or you can remember it. The conversion number for converting feet into meters is 0.3048. So this number tells you that 1 foot is the same as 0.3048 meters.

Step 2: Convert Each Unit

This is the most tricky part and something you just need to remember. When dealing with volume, your units are cubed, so you essentially have 3 units. For cubic feet, you have feet, feet, and feet again. So, when doing your conversion, you'll need to convert all three of your feet. For every feet you have, you'll need to multiply by the conversion number.

So to convert 10 cubic feet, you'll need to multiply the 10 by 0.3048 three times, one for each feet.

10 * 0.3048 * 0.3048 * 0.3048

The Solution

Multiplying this out, you find your solution to be 0.28 cubic meters.

So, now you can get on the phone and tell your coworker that you need a tank that will hold 0.28 cubic meters.

Other Conversions

In addition to converting from one measurement system to another, you can also perform conversions within the same measurement system. For example, you might need to convert your cubic feet to cubic yards. Or you might need to convert your cubic feet into cubic inches. This is because sometimes you just need to convert your units so that you'll have the right numbers to use in your calculations. Some formulas require inches versus feet, for example.

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