Resource 3: Questions to ask about measurement

Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

Examples of measuring equipment and questions

Here are some general ‘prompt’ questions you could ask pupils about pieces of equipment they don’t recognise:


    • Can you see any unit names on it? Or maybe just a letter? What does it stand for? What do we use that to measure?
    • Does it look like something you could make electrical measurements with? Could you connect electrical equipment to it?
    • Are there any knobs you can turn? What happens when you do that?

You could make this easier for students if you make a table of quantities, units and abbreviations for pupils to refer to, here is an example:

Quantity being measured Units it is measured in Abbreviation
Currentamps (amperes)A
Masskilos (kilograms)kg

Another way you could make the task easier is to use a small number of practical examples to make the identification process into more of matching exercise.

For example, if you had, an ammeter, a micrometer and a set of scales, you might provide a piece of leather or plastic, a circuit with a battery and a lamp, and a small object made of wood or metal, you might ask:

Which of these could I use to measure

  • the thickness of this piece of plastic?
  • the mass of this piece of metal?
  • the current flowing through this lamp?

Here are some examples of specific pieces of equipment and questions you could ask about them:

  • Micrometer – What things change when you turn the knob? (Hint: look at the scale, and look at what else is moving.)
  • Ammeter (or voltmeter) next to a circuit with a lamp and a switch connected to a battery pack –­ What might you use this to measure?
  • Force meter – What can you move on this? How do you move it? What do you think it might measure? What units is it marked in/ what letter(s) can you see on the scale? What does it (do they) stand for?
  • Voltmeter (connected across a lamp which is connected to a battery pack by a switch) ­– What changes when you close the switch? What is this measuring?
  • Top-pan balance or kitchen scales (with an analogue scale) – How can you get this to change the value next to the pointer? What units is it marked in? What do you think it measures?
  • Measuring cylinder or measuring jug – How can you use this as accurately as possible (read it at eye level)? Which would be most suitable for measuring 10 ml and why?

Resource 2: Practical Work

Resource 4: Measurement ‘circus’