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Measurement for Machinists

Introduction to Calipers and Micrometers

Measurement is an integral part of producing any physical goods. Whether by machine or by hand,
humans make measurements on a daily basis, sometimes unconsciously. Machinists, when crafting products of
fine precision, require equally precise measuring instruments, as do engineers, when taking measurements for
product design. There are a variety of measurement methods, and today will cover those most relevant to
those practicing metalworking: Calipers and Micrometers.
- Have students take guesses when Humans first measured the distance from the Earth to the Moon. Ask
students to support their hypotheses with reasoning.
o Students will be surprised to find out that the Greeks figured it out roughly 250 BCE. A Greek
astronomer named Hipparchus figured it out by measuring the time it took for the moon to
transit the sun during a lunar eclipse. This required knowledge of the circumference of the
Earth, discovered a few decades earlier by Eratosthenes, who used the angle and length of
shadows cast by the sun at different sea-level points on the earth to approximate the
- Picture of ancient Chinese caliper:
o The caliper was then compared against a ruler to determine length.
- Crazy units of measure:
o Mickey The smallest resolvable distance movement of a computer mouse, in pixels.
o Brass A plot of land 10 feet square.
o Shake 10 Nanoseconds. Used when measuring atomic oscillation
o The Smoot 5 feet, 7 inches. The height of MIT student Oliver Smoot. Used primarily to
measure the distance of the Harvard Bridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Standard 2.3-5.B Technologies are often combined (Vernier Scales)
- Standard 9.6-8.H Modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical
solutions. (Measurement provides a basis for all four processes)
- Standard 11.3-5.F Test and evaluate the solutions for the design problem. Use criteria identified in the
requirements for evaluating the solutions. After selecting a solution, build it to show the design idea. Also
observe safety when using tools and materials. Through this process, one will gain experience with various
types of materials from measuring, marking, cutting, and shaping to assembling and combining.
(Practicing Measurement)

Learning Goals:
- Students can identify a Dial Caliper, Digital Caliper, Vernier Caliper, Micrometer, and Vernier Micrometer
by sight.
- Students can explain the difference between a Vernier and non-Vernier measuring device
- Students can demonstrate what it means to say An order of magnitude.
- Students can accurately read measurements and units from the five devices described in goal 1.
- Students can explain what Zero Error means in measurement devices.
Pre/Post Assessment:
- See supplemental documents.
- 1 Document Camera
- 1 Presentation Board (Preferably SmartBoard, not required)
- 2-4 Dial Caliper
- 2-4 Digital Caliper
- 2-4 Vernier Caliper
- 2 Micrometer
- 2 Vernier Micrometer
- Classroom Set of Assessments
- Classroom Set of Paper for marking
- Classroom Set of Utensils
- 6-8 group stations set up around room. Each station will need either 1 Caliper or 1 Micrometer
- Show students each device, outlining key differences. (Vernier, Dial, Digital)
o Standard Calipers: .01 in accuracy, .1 mm accuracy (Typical)
Slide Based
o Standard Micrometer: .001 in accuracy, .01 mm accuracy (Typical)
Turn-Screw based
- Vernier Measurement System
o Developed by Pierre Vernier in the 1700s.
o Was a superior method to prior-used Transversals.
o Utilizes a second, proportional scale mounted to the primary scale, to increase measurement
accuracy by an order of magnitude.
Order of magnitude is both 101 and 10-1, used as a multiplicative factor. If something is
10 times larger, it is an order of magnitude larger.
Vernier Calipers: .001 in accuracy, or .03 mm (Typical) Dial, Digital, Vernier
Vernier Micrometer: .0001 in accuracy, .001 mm accuracy (Typical)
o Many devices are considered to have an internal Vernier system, such as the Dial and Digital

Demonstrate use of Calipers. Using website & projector, have students come up and pairs and practice
on the board using web applet. Allow class to provide advice / correction after pair of students has 1st
attempt. Do multiple times with:
o Standard Calipers:

Vernier Calipers:

Demonstrate use of Micrometer. Same process as Calipers, students interaction.

o Standard Micrometer:

Vernier Micrometer:

Zero Error:
o Zero Error is the amount of error an outside measurement device has when completely closed
(Calipers, Micrometer). For example, with the jaws completely closed, if a Dial Caliper reads
.098 inches, then it has a Zero Error of -.002 inches. This is because the dial needle skews to the
left when the jaws are closed (but only if the needle crosses the zero mark when near-closed).
Any reading taken with this caliper would require .002 inches added to the reading. Similarly, if
a Micrometer reads .1 mm when completely closed, it has a Zero Error of +.1 mm. Any reading
would require .1 mm subtracted from the total.
o Devices that have Zero Error can be compensated for in Dial Calipers by offsetting or turning the
dial. Zero Error can also be compensated for in Digital Calipers by resetting the device to Zero
when the jaws are closed. In all Manual/Analog Micrometers and Calipers, Zero Error can only
be fixed by returning the device to the manufacturer or similar trained expert for recalibration.
Large companies like Woodward and Boeing have their own on-site Metrology experts who
perform this task, as these companies have hundreds of measurement devices that must be
kept in perfect shape for consumer and employee safety.

Class Activity
o Count of students into 6-8 groups.
o Give students 3-4 minutes at each station. At each station, students will use the Caliper or
Micrometer provided to measure the following objects. These are just recommendations, vary
as desired.
Well Depth and Table Thickness of Vertical Mill
Thickness and diameter of coins using a Caliper
Thickness and diameter of coins using a Micrometer
Dimensions of a (Dead) Duracell AA and 9V battery using 0-1 Micrometer
Dimensions of a (Dead) Duracell AA and 9V battery using a Caliper
Width of Thumb, at the Knuckle (Caliper)
Width of Hair or Fingernail, using Micrometer
o After students have rotated through each section, have a classroom discussion about what you
experienced. In particular, we are trying to have students understand that the Caliper and
Micrometer are chosen for separate tasks. The micrometer is more accurate at measuring very
small things, but cannot measure large things at all.

Soft things, like fingers, are hard to measure, as skin compresses when the jaws of
calipers and micrometers close. This leads to inaccurate measurement.
Calipers are insufficient for measuring the thickness of coins, as that is at the smallest
end of caliper measurement. Similarly, the micrometer cannot measure the length of
the 9V battery it is too large.
Calipers have a height gauge built into the slide mechanism this is valuable for
measuring items like the depth of wells in the Vertical mill.
Very, very small things, like human hair, cannot be measured accurately even with a
Micrometer. This is both due to compression of biological products, and the fact that
using the smallest available demarcation on a measurement device above 0.00 is not
considered accurate.

On-going Lesson Assessment:

- During student pairing, observation of student attempts will signal how well the class is grasping the
- Periodically through the lesson, reinforce key terms by reciting them, and having students explain them
back to you.
- During class activity, mill between all groups, asking probing questions about why they are having
difficulties. Ensure that they are getting accurate results. Now that students are using the tools, this is a
key point to mitigate student frustration teacher attention is necessary to encourage involvement and
Modifications, adaptations, accommodations:
- Document Camera is key for student learning, as well as projector. It is unfeasible to have 20 students
crowding around the instructor. This gives all students easy sight for seeing very small handmeasurements. Also accommodates movement-impaired and sight-impaired students. Access to PSDs
LANschool software (Or similar CMS) would further facilitate class, as projected screen could be sent to
every student computer monitor.
- Use precise, non-colloquial terminology for ELL students. (Self-Note: SLOW DOWN, talk slower)

Pre/Post Assessment Discussion:

- See supplemental data.
- Students went from an average 6.33/29 to a 10.28/29. The average gain score was 6.2
- .
- The final question was ignored for validity reasons (content not properly / extensively addressed in
class, would not fairly assess students).
- Students improved most on questions 1-6, which regarded device identification. Most problems
occurred in identification of Vernier systems.
- Student achievement in reading measurements increased only mildly, with only 1-3 students improving
on any particular question, with more than 80% of students partially or entirely missing a question in
numbers 7-12.
- 4/15 students had gain scores over 10/30, another 7/15 had gain scores over 4.

Lack of performance in questions 7-12 tied to following reasons:

o Better Graphics needed on question
o More in-class practice necessary
o Re-emphasize to students that all numbers require units
o Lack of mathematical / addition & writing based approach to teaching measurement readings.
Positives: I felt I used technology well in this lesson, making use of SmartBoards, Document cameras,
and Online Tool Simulations to aid student growth. Students who consciously engaged were able to hear well. I
spoke with confidence, corrected myself when necessary. Besides using the direct-instruction model, I had
students practice in front of peers for class learning, as well as broke them out into groups for individual,
unguided practice. I feel this combines the necessity for exercise with teacher-accurate demonstration. Despite
technological difficulties, I continued through the lesson, not interrupting my lesson even as I fixed technology.
Additionally, I included historical elements to give students relevancy ties beyond standard Tech Education.
Room for Improvement: There are ways I could have used the technology even better. This includes
using markers to mark the measurement devices, reducing the effect of glare on the document camera.
Additionally, since I was using a web tool, I easily could have had students log onto the computers in front of
them, engaging them with a Kahoot quiz, or similar LMS, to have students practice using these tools in a digital
environment before transitioning to the physical environment. My classroom management could have been
better during the lesson. While students were quiet and respectful, there were 3-5 with severe attention
difficulties. Rather than interrupting my lesson, I proceeded forward for the benefit of other students, at the
expense of these students. I should have leveraged my mobility by having students continue to practice on the
board as I moved about the room, using my presence or contact to refocus distracted students. I would also
take longer with this lesson in the future. Coming from University, it is interesting sometimes how long it takes
to properly address a topic in a high school setting, particularly with 9th and 10th grade students. It is clear from
my Pre and Post assessment that an 80-minute block was not enough time for students to master this essential
skill. Admittedly, even in College, students often spend 2 class sessions and a laboratory on measurement
practices, and I should have been more cognizant of this fact.