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Numbers, units and arithmetic
Numbers, units and arithmetic

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Units in action

Example 7

Imagine a friend is planning a new kitchen in her house. In the kitchen showroom she noticed that the measurements of most of the kitchen units were given in millimetres. One worktop, for instance, is 575 mm deep. What units should she use to measure the large room in the house where the new kitchen will be located?


She could measure in millimetres, but that would give large numbers. It is difficult to visualise the room in terms of millimetres – 1 mm is approximately the thickness of a piece of wire. Can you imagine how many of those would fit along one wall! But thinking of it in terms of metres may be easier. A single bed is about one metre wide so you could visualise how many would fit side by side along each wall. This will help check measurements. So she might measure each side of the room in metres (e.g. 2.82 m by 4.25 m). To avoid using decimals, she could have used centimetres instead (giving 282 cm by 425 cm). Either of these would be sensible. It would be unhelpful (to say the least!) to quote the dimensions in kilometres (e.g. 0.00282 km by 0.00425 km).