Measuring Mass Using the Metric System

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  • 0:00 Metric Mass Units
  • 1:20 The Conversions
  • 3:10 Example 1
  • 3:30 Example 2
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

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

After watching this video lesson, you will know which units for mass are used in the metric system along with how to convert between the units. You will find out which special numbers are used for the conversions.

Metric Mass Units

In this lesson, you will learn about the metric mass units and how to convert between them. The metric mass units are the gram, kilogram, and metric ton. Why do you need to learn about these measurement units, and how do you convert between them? Knowing these measurements and their conversions is a good skill to have, as you will need to show your knowledge in this area on tests, and you may need to perform these calculations in real life when you are traveling abroad. Did you notice that I wrote 'metric ton' instead of simply, 'ton?' This is because the ton that is used in the United States is different than the metric ton used in the metric system. The metric ton can also be referred to as, 'tonne.'

The metric ton, just like the ton used in the United States, is used for measuring very large items, such as cars and trucks. The kilogram is used for measuring things that you and I can pick up and for measuring ourselves. And the gram is used for measuring small things like paperclips or even slices of bread.

Each of these units also has an abbreviation. The gram is abbreviated with a lower-case 'g,' so 5 grams is 5 g. The kilogram is abbreviated as lower-case 'kg,' so 10 kilograms is 10 kg. And the metric ton is abbreviated with a small 't,' so 1 metric ton is written as 1 t.

The Conversions

To convert between grams, kilograms, and metric tons, we make use of how much of each is in the other. This gives you the special number that you need to use to convert.

Because there are 1,000 grams in 1 kilogram, the special conversion number between grams and kilograms is 1,000.

1 kg = 1,000 g

So, to convert from kilograms to grams, you multiply by 1,000 and to convert from grams to kilograms, you divide by 1,000. An easy way to remember whether to multiply or divide is to think of what kind of conversion you are doing. If you are converting from larger to smaller, then you multiply. If you are converting from smaller to larger, then you divide.

The conversion number between metric tons and kilograms is also 1,000 since there are 1,000 kilograms in 1 metric ton.

1 t = 1,000 kg

Going from the metric ton to the kilogram, you multiply by 1,000 since you are going from larger to smaller. Converting kilograms to metric tons, you divide by 1,000 because you are going from smaller to larger.

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