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High School Math: Conversions, Practical Examples and Applications

Updated on August 31, 2013
Four metric measuring devices - a tape measure, a thermometer, a one kilogram weight and an electrical multimeter
Four metric measuring devices - a tape measure, a thermometer, a one kilogram weight and an electrical multimeter | Source

Setting ourselves up... inspired and ready!

Conversions have been around for ages, and now more than ever with this wide world web revolution. If you travel to Argentina for instance, you get faced with the metric system right away. You start seeing on the road signs like 'Speed limit= 85km/hr" If you rented a car at the airport, you are now like, "on your own."

If you go to Frankfurt Germany, you get faced again with the metric system wherever you go. You were in a bubble where all you needed to know was miles/hour, Fahrenheit degrees, furlongs and inches. I don't even mention the language because that would be another story.

The Metric System

In 1799, Napoleon introduced the metre, originally based on the metre des archives and the kilogramme des archives. Condorcet and revolutionary team, defined the decimal multiples in order to keep coherence. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that hasn't adopted the system completely. "Tradition and the very example of Benjamin Franklin, made us think about it too long."

CGS, ISO, DIN, ASA, ASTM and so many more; those were the haunting scientific initials in college, and boy they gave us a headache. "Conversion? Who cares about them?" Listen kid, I'm just writing this article in order to open a door, away from your texting and that catchy guitar from "Tin lizzy." Here you have it!


If you are listening to tin lizzy's, "Boys are back in town," and texting at the same time, you noticed that your adrenaline caught up with your own freaking mood.You dig it?

If You text 60 words per minute

then in 4:47 minutes you have texted 60(4:47)= 268.2 words. Oh boy!! You should sign for HP right now!

Conversions intrinsically imply "conversion factors"

If you want to convert inches to centimeters, you need a conversion factor:

INCHES(CF) = Centimeters

Either you go to a conversion table, or you go back in time and ask Thomas Jefferson, who wanted and proposed a transition toward an international standard. But Congress, yeah there we go again, they just looked the other way and never approved it.

Inches(2.54) = Centimeters

What did we do?

We added a congruent factor. It might look a little harder when you start recognizing your teacher's method:

INCH(2.54cmts/INCH) = MEASUREMENT in Centimeters

At first is easy, but later on you will see why we start from scratch and take our time ourselves. Besides the longer you read, the longer AdSense recognize our "labor of love." Can you imagine a future writer taking his time with folks like you? Not even George Lucas or Steven Spielberg came this close! Back off, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon!


By listening to "Last train to London" from ELO. We find ourselves driving from Buenos Aires north to Santa Fe Capital, 440 kilometers from the capital. What ###!

Now you come to us.

Lord, convert Kilometers to miles please!

Just start by finding the conversion factor

1 mile = 1.609 Kmts

440 kmts[1mile/1.609 kmts]= 400(1/1.609)= 273.46 miles


1= km/km= 1km/1000mt (anything multiplied by number one gives you the same number)

Still Driving through Cordova, heading to Santa Fe, Argentina

The signs are weird looking: "Do not drive and drink," and Speed Limit, "100km/hour." The world is in front of us. What in this awesome world are we doing in Argentina? A long story my friend!

100km/hr ........ How many miles per hour for U.S. standards?

100km[1mile/1.609klmt]= 62.15 miles

We just add the hours back, so the speed limit is set to 62.15 miles/hr

Yikes! and double Yikes!! with a tango Argentino! Those "Gauchos" love their foreign friends. Read my lips pal!

Lord, my Teacher makes it so hard..!

The trick of the matter is just add conversion factors as multipliers. All is practice in life, and like we said before, math is like learning another language. You don't just read a story for your literature course; you have a new world of symbols to deal with. Here are more examples: I use my favorite song from all time, "everybody wants to rule the world!"

Kilometers/liter to Miles per Gallon -- Multiple Conversions

According to Mercedes Benz, a 2012 E350 Sedan model can give you 12.3 kilometers/liter, but we want to know what's the equivalent in U..S standards:

Obviously, conversion to Gallons/mile involves two parts:

Liters>>> gallons and.

Kilometers>>> miles

We know, or should know that,

1 mile = 1.609 kilometers

1 U.S. gallon = 3.7853 liters

12.3 Klmts/ltr = 12.3 (1mile/1.609)(3.7853/gal)

12.3 Klmts/ltr = 12.3(3.7853)/(1.609) miles/gallon = 46.56/1.609 = 28.93 miles/gallon

The answer is: 28.93 miles per gallon in U.S. performance standards. Not too bad for a $40,000 Mercedes-Benz!

Lastly, a little of Physics

All because of Newton and that darn apple...

The acceleration due to gravity near the earth surface is 9.81 m/s2

Convert this gravitational unit in ft/s2

Our strategy would be to go from meters to centimeters and then catch up with feet (ft)


Our "structure of conversion" will look like this template:

We know by checking some basic conversion tables that:

1ft = 30.48 cm

and 1m = 100 cm

Replacing the values in the template shown, we can obtain the final conversion in ft/s2:

9.81m/s2 = 9.81m/s2 (100cm/1m)(1ft/30.48cm)

=9.81(100)/30.48 (ft/s2 )

= 981/30.48 = 32.185 ft/s2

So the acceleration of gravity in ft/s2 is: 32.185 ft/s2

Dude! She blinded him with science!!


Submit a Comment

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

    Dwachira, nice to see you stopping by and leave a fun comment! I know, I think Sumerians invented the base of 60, so is too late to blame them, the damage was already done! Take care buddy!

  • dwachira profile image

    [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    Hi Joseph,

    Those conversions, lol! I still remember one student back when we were in primary school asking why a circle has 360 degrees and not any other number like 412 or 117 degrees and who actually decided so! I like scientists, inventing those harder part of life for us, they should have been in another world. Voted up and useful.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

    Hi Tammy! You always so kind and catching up with us. Thanks for the support. Like Dwachira said it, "this is a way to pay back to the world," that showed us a different way to see science. Hope you are fine my friend!

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

    If I ever go back to school again (NOT), I will hire you as my math tutor. I am sure you are a hero to many a student in the virtual world!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

    Thanks Ruby forn the visit. Luckily I didn't get deeper into degrees and that dready MKS system. This is just a math hub made with so much fun. Always appreciated for your visit and interesting comments!

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

    OMG, I felt like I was back in nurses training trying to learn the metric system. I had a difficult time then and now too. You make learning fun with your remarkable wit..Cheers.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

    You said it right Bill. Going for 1/4, 1/8 and 1/32's to decimals and metrics, is like leaving Baseball and its filed of dreams behind. Thomas Jefferson did try, but I guess it was already instilled as part of the american dream going westward. Thanks billy!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    You are so good! This is so well-written, and you have made conversions fun, although I don't see the average U.S. citizen jumping on this bandwagon anytime soon. I think the U.S. is waiting for the other 95% of the world to come around to our way of thinking. Such is the price of ego!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

    Morning Janine, your support is truly appreciated. We just wrote this hub in order to help our kids. Took a little longer, but finally saw the light. Thanks my friend for stopping by!

  • Janine Huldie profile image

    Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

    Joseph, you already know how much of huge fan I am of simplifying math and using real world examples too. you did that beautifully here with conversions and my hat is off to you sir. Truly wonderful article and couldn't have done it better myself :) Have of course voted up and shared too!!