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National Metric Week

Metric Week logo

Each year, the week containing 10 October — the tenth day of the tenth month — is National Metric Week.

This page contains items and ideas for use during National Metric Week, although most of them are useful throughout the year.

Metric quizzes and puzzles

Puzzle thumbnail

USMA's puzzles and quizzes page has a variety of puzzles, quizzes, and the like that you can download and print.

Most of them are useful either in a classroom or for your personal amusement.

Other ideas for celebrating National Metric Week

USMA's Tips to educators for teaching the metric system, and ideas for schools celebrating National Metric Week provides many ideas for classroom activities.

And visit the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Celebrate National Metric Week page for more information.

History of National Metric Week

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) started the National Metric Week tradition, with the first one during the week of 10 May 1976, the year after the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was enacted. Here's an excerpt from the “About Education” column by Gene I. Maeroff on page 32 of the 3 March 1976 issue of The New York Times:


National Metric Week remained in May for its first eight years, although not always explicitly including the tenth of the month:

Metric Week 1980

Among other things, USMA held annual National Metric Week poster contests for students in California's San Gabriel Valley schools. Here, in 1980, USMA's Mary Gerke and Frank Pawluc of Republic Federal Savings and Loan, which donated the $50 prize, present the award to first prize winner Robert Iwan of Sierra Madre, CA:

Metric Week 1980

Of course, other organizations participated, too, such as this National Metric Week exhibit at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL in 1982:

Metric Week 1982

National Metric Week proclamations

Many states have issued official proclamations in support of National Metric Week. The peak appears to have been in 1984, as reported in the January-February 1985 USMA Newsletter (predecessor to Metric Today):

Oregon proclamation

Governor Victor Atiyeh signing Oregon's Metric Week proclamation with Ernest John Rubin, CAMS, on his right and Detlef Goepfert, CAMS, on his left. Rubin and Goepfert are Portland members of USMA who were instrumental in getting the Oregon Metric Proclamation issued.

The National Metric Week celebration for 1984 (October 7–13) was enhanced by the issuing of state Metric Week proclamations by the governors of 33 states this year. Issue of the state proclamations can be traced to the efforts of a number of USMA members who started early to urge their Governors to support National Metric Week, which was originally established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. [Many] USMA members succeeded in persuading their governors to proclaim state metric week, making this year's 33 proclamations the largest number issued since National Metric Week was set, several years ago.

States that issued proclamations include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Some of the metric proclamations were signed during formal ceremonies. For example, Oregon's Governor Vic Atiyeh's signing was observed by some USMA members and officials of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, as shown in the accompanying photo.

The move from May to October

In 1983, NCTM moved National Metric Week to its present date, the week of 10 October — the tenth day of the tenth month — because the May date was deemed too close to the end of the school year.

In fact, 1983 had two National Metric Weeks: NCTM had announced 8–14 May 1983 as National Metric Week at the beginning of the year, and that summer declared 9–15 October 1983 to be the first National Metric Week on the new schedule.

Metric Week 1984

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Updated: 2009-05-05