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What is a Cubic Centimeter? - Definition & Conversion

Instructor: Chris Harrod

Chris has spent the past 16 years teaching all subjects in elementary school classrooms.

It is important to be able to measure the world around us. In this lesson, you will learn about measuring volume using cubic centimeters and how to change these units into other common units of measurement.

Standard Units of Measurement

Suppose you are watching a YouTube video about making a paper airplane model, where the instructor in the video lives in another country. So that your model ends up the same size and shape as the one in the video, it is important that you use the same unit of measurement as the instructor, or a standard unit of measurement.

A centimeter is a standard unit of measurement.
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A standard unit of measurement is one that is exactly the same size, no matter where in the world you are. For example, a centimeter (cm) is one standard unit that is used for measuring the length of a line. One centimeter in the United States is always the same size as one centimeter in France, Japan, India, or anywhere else in the world! A pencil, a dime, and your pinkie finger are all objects that are about the width of a centimeter; centimeters can also be used to measure liquid, as we'll find out next.

Cubic Centimeters and Volume

Have you ever noticed that when you get into a bathtub the water gets higher? This is because your body takes up space and pushes the water out of the way. The amount of space your body, or any object, takes up is called its volume. Every real object has volume and takes up space.

Cubic centimeters can be used to measure volume.
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One standard unit that is used to measure volume is the cubic centimeter (cm3). A cubic centimeter takes up the same amount of space as a small cube that measures 1 cm in length on each side. This means that a cubic centimeter is a very small unit of measurement, even smaller than a teaspoon, and is very useful for measuring the volume of small things. A green pea, a chocolate chip, and the eraser on the end of a pencil are all things that have a volume of about 1 cubic centimeter.

Think of a cubic centimeter as a small cube.
cubic centimeter

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