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5 Feet 2 Inches in Meters: How-to & Steps

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Converting from a measurement in feet and inches to a measurement in meters may seem daunting, but this lesson gives an easy-to-follow, step-by-step method for making this conversion.

Setting up the Problem

James has built a robot in the US that he wants to enter into a contest in Mexico. However, he runs across a problem when he is filling out the application: the robot James built is 5 feet 2 inches tall, but the application asks for the robot's height in meters, to two decimal places. James does not have a measuring tape in meters, so now he has to find a way to convert his robot's height in feet and inches into a height in meters.

The first step is to convert extra inches into decimal feet. James will need to convert the robot's 2 inches in excess of 5 feet into a decimal. Why? Because this will make the following steps a lot easier.

To make this conversion, we have to use a conversion factor from inches to feet. A conversion factor helps you convert one type of measuring unit to an equivalent number of different units. For inches to feet, the conversion factor is (1 foot / 12 inches). The units being converted to go on the top, while the units being converted from go on the bottom. To get the decimal form of 2 inches, what we have to do is multiply 2 inches by our conversion factor, like this:

Decimal feet of 2 inches = (2 inches)(1 foot / 12 inches)

= 2 inch feet / 12 inches

Since units of inches are on both the top and bottom of the fraction, once we do the division, this reduces to:

= 0.167 feet

The second step is to add to whole feet. James' robot was a little bit taller than 5 feet, and in Step 1, we figured out exactly how much taller. Now we have to add that decimal feet form of 2 inches to the 5 feet. This will give us the total height of his robot in decimal feet.

5 + 0.167 = 5.167 feet

Easy, right? Let's keep going.

The third step is a little trickier: find feet to meters conversion factor. This is tricky for James because he doesn't know the conversion factor going from feet to meters. Going from inches to feet was easy - everybody knows 12 inches are in 1 foot, but how does James find this conversion factor going from feet to meters? Luckily, he remembers his science book has some conversion tables in it. Once he finds the book and the conversion factor table, he quickly discovers that the conversion factor going from feet to meters is:

(1 meter / 3.281 feet)

The fourth and final step is to convert decimal feet to meters. Once James has the conversion factor, the rest of the problem is easy: all he has to do is take his decimal feet height for his robot and multiply it by the conversion factor for feet to meters.

Meters in 5.167 feet = (5.167 feet) (1 meter / 3.281 feet)

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