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Math 20
 Shapeshifting: Changing a Number 

Shapeshifting
Rounding
Decimal Accuracy
Your Turn to Round
Estimating
Fraction Format
Thinking About Division
Divisibility and Factors
Desired Denominators
Decimals and Fractions
Ratios and Rates
Percent Format
Decimal Point Scoots
Four Replacements for %
Percents, Decimals, and Fractions
Measurement
Units and Their History
One Step Conversions
More about SI Prefixes
Exponents and Square Roots

Our first big topic is Shapeshifting. This is our nickname for when we do something to a single number.

What can we do with a single number?

Consider a situation in which child rolls a die 1,000 times. An even number is rolled 499 times.

We can write this result in fraction format as 4991,000.

This fraction is very close to one-half. In fact, we would expect that if the child rolled the dice many more times the nearness to one-half would increase. The child has "proved" in his or her mind that the chance rolling an even number is one-half. So it makes sense to round the answer to one-half.

We could change the number one-half to decimal format by writing it as 0.5.

Tangentially, when it is spoken aloud the decimal 0.5 has three possible names. An instructor who is lecturing would use the dictation name and say "zero point five" because saying "zero point..." gives a heads-up to listening ears. People thinking to themselves or working together would probably use the casual name and say "point five". There is also a formal name, "five tenths", created from the place value of the final digit.

We could change the number one-half to percent format by writing it as 50%.

Finally, if the number was a measurement we could change the format of its measurement units. For example, a length of 0.5 feet could also be written as 6 inches.

To summarize, we will explore more deeply how and when we "shapeshift" a number by rounding or by changing formats (fraction, decimal, percent, measurement units).


When reading this page you can show or hide the example problem answers. Either tap the shift key or on a touch screen do a long wiggle. When reviewing this page after class, always try to work the problems "forwards" and then check your understanding. Do not examine the answers first and then try to work "backwards". It would be better to wait and ask questions during class.

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Rounding

Decimal Accuracy §1.1, §1.6, §4.1

Decimals can be very accurate.

gaming mouse High-performance gaming optical mice can measure a movement as small as six ten-thousandths of an inch.

LEGO bricks fit together so well because the molds that make them are even more precise. Their accuracy is within two thousandths of a millimetre.

Let's review the place value names.

1. State the place value of each digit in the number 9876.54321.

place value problem

We should also do two problems that check that zeroes in decimal place values confuse us.

2. Place the following numbers in ascending order (smallest to largest).

20,680       2,680       2,860       2,608

3. Place the following numbers in ascending order (smallest to largest).

0.57429       0.57491       0.574905       0.57949

water person Here is an example in which so many decimal places really matter.

Cole Paviour invented a famous machine that used a computerized motion-capture of an athlete moving to control the timing of more than two thounsand separate water drop dispensers. This machine needs accuracy to the millionths place.

Imagine that one of Cole Paviour's measurements was 5.714286 seconds.

4. Confirm that the measurement 5.714286 seconds is accurate to the millionths place.

In that situation the decimals really were amazingly accurate. However, some decimals look accurate but are not.

The most common source of fake accuracy is division.

Consider three different division stories that use 40 inches ÷ 7 = 5.714286....

5. I am planning my kid's birthday party. There will be six children attending, so I need 7 party favor bags (including the one for my own kid). I have 40 pieces of candy for in the bags. How many pieces go in each bag?

It is true that 40 inches ÷ 7 = 5.714286... which looks like the number from Example 4. But rounding this answer with any decimal places does not make sense. No one will get a part of a candy. We should just drop all the decimal places.

Notice how the decimal places appeared because of division, not careful measurement. They were fake accuracy.

6. A pharmacist has a small container whose label tells her it contains 40 milligrams of medicine. She divides it into 7 doses. How many milligrams are in each dose?

Notice how the decimal places appeared because of division, not careful measurement. But adding one more decimal place could be justified. Making about ten piles could increase our accuracy by a tenth. Also, the pharmacist's scale could measure accurately to the tenth of a milligram.

7. A carpenter had a 40 inch board, and cut it into seven equal lengths. How many inches long is each piece?

Notice how the decimal places appeared because of division, not careful measurement. But adding one more decimal place is very justified. Making about ten piles could increase our accuracy by a tenth. Also, the carpenter's tools should measure accurately to the tenth of an inch.

In conclusion, a measurement tool can be very accurate. But when division is the source of a decimal answer, the general guideline is to not add more than one more decimal place than in the original values.

A General Rule for Accuracy

When division is the source of a decimal answer, use the same number of decimal places as in the original values, or perhaps one more decimal place.

Your turn to do an example.

8. Clara cans 15 pints of salsa. There are 16 pints in a gallon. How much of a gallon did she make?

If you want a more elaborate review of place value, the links in the next boxes can be your friend!

Many textbooks are Open Educational Resources, which means that anyone can use them. They can be printed inexpensively, or used for free online. Some grant permission for instructors to modify them to best fit their classes.

This website will include links to three OER textbooks that teach similar math topics. Seeing the same topics explained in different ways can be very helpful!

Note that the symbol § means "section". After opening the link, you might need to use CTRL-F to search for the section number. That will let you jump to the right place in the e-book.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Place Value in §1.1

Place Value with Decimals in §5.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Place Value in §1.1

Arithmetic by OpenText

Place Value in §1.1.2

But that's not all! This website also provides links to videos that other students have found helpful.

If you find yet more helpful videos, please let your instructor know so that this website can be updated and improved!

videos

Kahn Academy

Introduction to Place Value

Finding Place Value

Your Turn to Round

In the examples above the decimal answer was rounded for you. Now it is your turn to round decimal answers!

First, a carefully worded definition.

Rounding

Rounding is ideally reducing the accuracy of an answer to remove fake accuracy, using four steps:

• Pick an appropriate place value

• Make zero the digits to the right (this removes decimal digits)

• Of the digits just made zero, if the largest/leftmost was 5 or more then increase by 1 the digit of the picked place value

• Do not change the digits to the left

No one else defines rounding so carefully. But we can be extra awesome.

Let's unpack this definition.

First, we ideally only round answers with fake accuracy. The exceptions should be few. When someone like Cole Paviour works hard to be genuinely super-accurate it would be a shame to throw away that accuracy for no reason!

Second, we pick an appropriate place value. You were just introduced to the relevant issues. How accurate are the situation's initial values? How accurate are the tools being used? Is the situation one of the rare cases when making equal sized piles can add not merely one but two decimal places of accuracy?

(In general, students worry much more about this decision than math instructors. We want you to learn math, not spend time agonizing over whether a teaspoon is accurate to the hundredth or thousandth of a pint.)

Third, notice that we are making digits zero. It can be tempted to use sloppy thinking and imagine that we are "removing" decimal place digits. But truthfully they are still there. We have only set them to zero, which means we can skip writing them.

Time for many more examples!

9. Round each number to the nearest... ones?      tens?      hundreds?      thousands?

10. Round each number to the nearest... tenth?      hundredth?      thousandth?      ten-thousandth?

In problem 10g please notice the unexpected thing when rounding to the nearest thousandth. When we are asked to write to the thousandths place, we must write three decimal digits. We write a zero to "fill up" to the thousandths place.

11. Find the rounding error below, where someone tried to round 478.3469 to different place values.

rounding problem

Our definition of rounding warned us to not round in the middle of a problem. If we round too early we introduce error. Let's consider a few examples.

12a. In Eugene it rains, on average, about 1.15 inches per week. How many inches of rain is this per year? Round correctly, only rounding the answer.

12b. In Eugene it rains, on average, about 1.15 inches per week. How many inches of rain is this per year? Round incorrectly, doing 1 inch × 52 weeks.

Here is another example of rounding too early.

13a. You do assistant contractor work that earns a little over $1,000 per month after taxes. You work for 3 months and 1 week, then have time between jobs, then work for 5 months and 1 week. How much do you earn total? Round correctly, only rounding the answer.

13b. You do assistant contractor work that earns a little over $1,000 per month after taxes. You work for 3 months and 1 week, then have time between jobs, then work for 5 months and 1 week. How much do you earn total? Round incorrectly, doing (3 + 5) × $1,000.

As a concluding exercise, work with a partner to invent a word problem. Solve it accurately, doing any rounding at the end. Then round too early, and see how much the answer changes. Try to invent a problem for which rounding early would be utterly disastrous.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Rounding Basics in §1.1

Rounding with Decimals in §5.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Rounding in §1.1

Arithmetic by OpenText

Rounding in §1.1.2

videos

The Organic Chemistry Tutor

Rounding Numbers and Rounding Decimals - The Easy Way!

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 1 Test, Problem 20: Round 34,528 to the nearest thousand.

Chapter 1 Test, Problem 21: Round 34,528 to the nearest ten.

Chapter 1 Test, Problem 22: Round 34,528 to the nearest hundred.

Chapter 4 Test, Problem 14: Round 5.6783 to the nearest one.

Chapter 4 Test, Problem 15: Round 5.6783 to the nearest hundredth.

Chapter 4 Test, Problem 16: Round 5.6783 to the nearest thousandth.

Chapter 4 Test, Problem 17: Round 5.6783 to the nearest tenth.

Estimating §1.6, §4.6

Definition

Rounding at the very beginning of a problem is called estimating.

As we have seen, this can change the answer a lot. But it can be a very helpful thing to do as a quick "check" after we finish a problem. Is our answer close to the estimated amount? If not, we probably made a careless calculator mistake and can go back to find what went wrong.

14. Estimate the answer to $47,900 ÷ 12 before using a calculator to do the problem.

15. Estimate the sum or difference. Round all numbers (you pick how much to round) before mentally adding or subtracting.

16. Estimate the product or quotient. Round all numbers (you pick how much to round) before mentally multiplying or dividing.

17. This week the national average price for a certain item was $3.025, which is an increase of $0.284 from last week. First estimate last week's price. Then solve to find the actual value of last week's price.

18. A square has four equal sides of length 2.48 feet. The perimeter of a square is the sum of its four sides. First estimate the square's perimeter. Then solve to find the actual value of the square's perimeter.

19. Circle the correct response. If each number in a sum is rounded up, the estimated total

will be an overestimate    /    will be an underestimate    /    could be either an overestimate or underestimate

20. Circle the correct response. If each number in a sum is rounded down, the estimated total

will be an overestimate    /    will be an underestimate    /    could be either an overestimate or underestimate

21. Circle the correct response. If some of the numbers in a sum are rounded up and others are rounded down, the estimated total

will be an overestimate    /    will be an underestimate    /    could be either an overestimate or underestimate

Congratulations! You are at the end of the first subtopic (Rounding) for our first big topic (Shapeshifting).

You have now thought more carefully than most people about decimals, their accuracy, when to round, and how much to round.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

nothing for estimating

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

nothing for estimating

Arithmetic by OpenText

nothing for estimating

videos

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 1 Test, Problem 23: Estimate the sum 23,649 + 54,746 by first rounding to the nearest hundred.

Chapter 1 Test, Problem 24: Estimate the difference 54,751 − 23,649 by first rounding to the nearest hundred.

Chapter 1 Test, Problem 25: Estimate the product 824 × 489 by first rounding to the nearest hundred.

Chapter 4 Test, Problem 39: Estimate the product 8.91 × 22.457 by first rounding to the nearest one.

Chapter 4 Test, Problem 40: Estimate the quotient 78.2209 ÷ 16.09 by first rounding to the nearest ten.


Fraction Format

You might be thinking, "Ugh, fractions!"

Fraction arithmetic is the review topic most complained about by students in this class.

In this class we will discuss fractions slowly and carefully, so you can finally master fractions.

kicking the snot out of inner demons Be strong and brave! A math class is not a cozy place. If your teacher said, "We are about to study fractions. Anyone whose past includes a bad experience with fractions might want to leave the room now" then probably everyone would leave the room, including the teacher. As our study skills page advises, "Of course we have emotional baggage. Math victories happen as we recognize just which inner demons haunt our math ability, acknowledge how they do that, and then kick the snot out of them."

As with many topics, a key to success is first establishing a solid foundation. The foundation for understanding fractions is division.

So it is time to talk about division.

Thinking About Division §1.5

There are two ways to think about division. Unfortunately, most people are only taught one way and this causes people to get stuck.

Dealing Out Cards

The first way to think about division is dealing out cards.

If I want to model 6 ÷ 3 = 2 then I act out having six cards, and dealing them out to three people until I am done.

How does it work? What question do I ask to find the answer? (An answer we know is 2.)

Division: Dealing Out Cards (Works Great!)

Model 6 ÷ 3 = 2 by dealing out cards.

6 becomes the number of cards total.

3 becomes the number of piles.

2 becomes the number of cards per pile.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking does not help with dividing by fractions.

Division: Dealing Out Cards (Has Problems!)

Deal out cards to model 6 ÷ 12 = 12.

We get stuck! How do we deal cards to half a pile? What is "half a pile" anyway?

Making Piles of a Fixed Size

The second way to think about division is making piles of a fixed size.

If I want to model 6 ÷ 3 = 2 then I act out having six cards, and dealing them out them out into piles of size 3 until I am done.

How does it work? What question do I ask to find the answer? (An answer we know is 2.)

Division: Piles of Fixed Size (Works Great!)

Model 6 ÷ 3 = 2 by making piles of a fixed size.

6 becomes the number of cards total.

3 becomes the number of cards per pile.

2 becomes the number of piles.

This way of thinking does help us think about dividing by fractions.

Division: Piles of Fixed Size (Still Works Great!)

Model 6 ÷ 12 = 12 by making piles of a fixed size.

6 becomes the number of cards total.

12 becomes the number of cards per pile. (We must rip cards in half!)

12 becomes the number of piles.

The second way of thinking also allows us to understand why division by zero, which is undefined, is in a few situations treated as if the answer is infinity. If I had some cards and tried to make piles of size zero I can do this easily. I just never stop!

Your turn to think carefully about division.

22. Solve each equation by multiplying or dividing, if possible.

23. 4 ÷ 12 =

24. 12 ÷ 14 =

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Division of whole numbers in §1.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

nothing for thinking carefully about division

Arithmetic by OpenText

Models of multiplication in §1.3.1

Representing division in §1.4

videos

Kahn Academy

The Idea of Division

Divisibility and Factors §2.1, §2.2

Visualizing Factors

Our next step in thinking carefully about division is to visualize factors.

Definition

Factors are the numbers you multiply to get another number.

That is a slightly sloppy definition, but it is good enough.

We can look at a multiplication equation to find factors.

Examples of Factors

3 and 5 are two of the factors of 15 because 3 × 5 = 15

1 and 15 are two more factors of 15 because 1 × 15 = 15

Some students find it helpful to think about factors by imagining all the ways to make a rectangle with blocks or coins.

factors example

Note that 1 and the number itself are always factors!

Divisibility Rules

How would we find factors if we do not have multiplication equations handed to us?

We could just think hard, and maybe guess-and check.

Does 6 Work?

Is 6 a factor of 96?

Um...let me think...yes, because 6 × 16 = 96

But some tricks can help us.

Here are divisibility rules you already know:

Here are divisibility rules that might be new to you:

There are yet more divisibility rules, but these are the ones that are easy to use.

Let's apply the divisibility rules to 13,512.

25. Is 13,512 divisible by... 2?       3?       4?       5?       6?       9?

Let's also apply the divisibility rules to 2,016.

26. Is 5,661 divisible by... 2?       3?       4?       5?       6?       9?

27. Is 5,025 divisible by... 2?       3?       4?       5?       6?       9?

28. Is 73,080 divisible by... 2?       3?       4?       5?       6?       9?

These divisibility rules let us quickly find some factors.

Let's play the Factor Game! Here is a copy of the game board to use with an in-class demonstration.

factor game

29. factor game problem Xavier and Odette are playing the Factor Game. Xavier is X's. Odette is O's. The board is shown below. It is Xavier's turn.

Being able to find factors quickly will soon allow us to do fraction arithmetic more easily. But we have a bit more preparation to do.

There are two flavors of thorough factor finding. In some situations we want to find all the factors. In other situations we want to find the prime factors.

Finding all the factors will be useful when reducing a fraction.

Finding prime factors will useful when finding a common denominator for fractions.

Ready?

Finding All the Factors

We find all the factors of a number by making a two-column list. Count 1, 2, 3,... in the first column. List any matching factors in the second column. When the columns get to the same value we can stop.

30. Find all the factors of 66.

31. Find all the factors of 24.

32. Find all the factors of 60.

33. Which has more factors, 36 or 40?

34. Of all the numbers we just considered, only 36 had an odd number of factors. What happened to make 36 special?

Finding Prime Factors

We find prime factors by making a factor tree and noting the "leaves".

Remember factor trees?

Here is one factor tree for 48.

rounding example

35. Write a different factor tree for 48 that does not start with 6 and 8.

Either circle or "bring down" the leaves of your factor tree so you do not make a careless mistake and forget any of them when writing your answer.

To be polite, list the prime factors in order. Write them as a product (separated by × symbols).

Optionally, you may show off your fluency with exponents by writing the prime factors as compactly as possible using exponents.

The ordered list of prime factors is called the prime factorization.

For example, the prime factorization of 66 is 2 × 2 × 2 × 3.

36. Find the prime factorization of 48.

37. Find the prime factorization of each number.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Factors, Divisibility in §1.4

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Finding Factors in §2.4

Arithmetic by OpenText

Tests of divisibility in §2.2.1

videos

Kahn Academy

Finding Factors

Divisibility Tests for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10

Finding Factors of a Number

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 6: Determine whether 1,784 is divisible by 8.

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 7: Determine whether 784 is divisible by 9.

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 8: Determine whether 5,552 is divisible by 5.

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 9: Determine whether 2,322 is divisible by 6.

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 1: Find all the factors of 300.

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 4: Find the prime factorization of 18.

Chapter 2 Test, Problem 5: Find the prime factorization of 60.

Desired Denominators §2.5

How can we change a fraction so it has a desired denominator?

That is an excellent question. We will answer it soon. But first it is time for cake!

Let us consider the fraction one-third drawn as a slice of cake.

cake cutting example

Un-Reducing

The most intuitive thing to do with those big slices of cake is to keep cutting the cake.

38. Change the three-piece cake by making one cut so the cake will have six equal pieces. How many are shaded?

We can represent this cake-cutting with numbers. We take 13 and multiply the numerator and denominator by two.

39. Change the three-piece cake by making two cuts so the cake will have nine equal pieces. How many are shaded?

We can again represent this cake-cutting with numbers. We take 13 and multiply the numerator and denominator by three.

Definition

Un-Reducing a fraction represents with numbers the act of slicing the cake more. The numerator and denominator are multiplied by the same value.

Yikes. I am glad our first two definitions were admirable. Because the third was slightly sloppy. And this one talks about cake? What kind of word is "un-reducing" anyway? I don't think that is actual math jargon. Sigh. I thought we had standards.

Anyway, notice that there are four ways to write "un-reducing" one-third into two-sixths. Three are appropriate. One is wrong.

Writing Un-reducing

"Un-reduce" the fraction 13 into an equivalent fraction with a denominator of six.

(a) write two little, floating × 2, one each for numerator and denominator

(b) write a single, centered × 2 intended to work on both numerator and denominator

(c) write another fraction: × 22

(d) cross out the one and three and replace them with the larger values

Do not use (b)! This is how we write multiplication, not "un-reducing" numerator and denominator.

A moment ago we asked, "How can we change a fraction so it has a desired denominator?" Now we have one answer to that question.

If the current denominator is a factor of our desired denominator, we can multiply both numerator and denominator by something.

Enough about "un-reducing"! I don't think it is a real word anyway. I have never heard it before, Google doesn't know about it, and it keeps appearing inside quotation marks.

Reducing

Can we use a cake diagram to think about dividing both numerator and denominator of a fraction.

Sure. We could make big slices of cake by gluing smaller slices together. Maybe we use very sticky icing?

Here is a whole cake.

cake cutting example

We will prepare the whole cake by making two vertical slices and one horizontal slice to show sixths. Shade in the left-most two of the sixths.

(To be extra clear, we will use one color pen for the vertical slices, and another color for the horizontal slice.)

40. Glue cake slices together to change two-sixths into one-third.

We can represent this cake-gluing with numbers. We take 26 and divide the numerator and denominator by two.

Next we erase, and prepare the whole cake by making two vertical slices and two horizontal slice to show ninths. Shade in the left-most three of the ninths.

(To be extra clear, we will use one color pen for the vertical slices, and another color for the horizontal slices.)

41. Glue cake slices together to change three-ninths into one-third.

We can represent this cake-gluing with numbers. We take 39 and divide the numerator and denominator by three.

Here is our definition.

Definition

We reduce a fraction by dividing the numerator and denominator by the same value. That value must be a factor of both the numerator and denominator.

Since reducing is not make-believe jargon, we actually need a second definition.

Definition

A fraction is fully reduced if its numerator and denominator have no factor in common (except 1).

Many books and websites call a fully reduced fraction "simplified". We avoid that word because it has a bad tendency to be used in too many situations without careful definitions. It ends up fuzzy and vague, for many students meaning no more than "make the instructor happy".

Again there are four ways to write reducing two-sixths into one-third. Three are appropriate. One is wrong.

Writing Reducing

Reduce the fraction 26 into an equivalent fraction with a denominator of three.

(a) write two little, floating ÷ 2, one each for numerator and denominator

(b) write a single, centered ÷ 2 intended to work on both numerator and denominator

(c) write another fraction: ÷ 22

(d) cross out the two and three and replace them with the smaller values

Do not use (b)! This is how we write division, not reducing numerator and denominator.

Notice that reducing is a process. Canceling is one possible step in the process. (Reducing and canceling are related, but not the same thing!)

A moment ago we asked, "How can we change a fraction so it has a desired denominator?" Now we have another answer to that question.

If the desired denominator is a factor of our current denominator, we can try to divide both numerator and denominator by something.

Notice the word try. We cannot always reduce. If we wanted thirds, but currently have 56, we are stuck. Our desired denominator of 3 is indeed a factor of our current denominator of 6. But trying to reduce does not work with that numerator. We do not always get what we want.

An important comment is that efficiency is a convenience, not a virtue when reducing fractions.

42. Use three steps (each of dividing the numerator and denominator by 2) to fully reduce the fraction 824

That worked great!

43. Use one step (of dividing the numerator and denominator by 8) to fully reduce the fraction 824

That also worked great!

Some students like to reduce with many steps. It can feel satisfying and safe to chip away at the numbers a little bit at a time.

Other students like to reduce with one step. It can feel satisfying and powerful to find which factor is most efficient.

You can use either method.

To help us talk about the difference, we need one more definition.

Definition

The greatest common factor of two numbers is the...um...biggest factor they both have...

XKCD comic 703

Oops. That's not a definition. That's a tautology. Sorry.

Anyway, congratulations again! You are almost at the end of the second subtopic (Fraction Format) for our first big topic (Shapeshifting).

You have now thought more carefully than most people about division, factors, and reducing and "un-reducting" fractions. You know tricks for finding all the factors, and have seen that those tricks are useful when reducing a fraction.

We have not yet tried finding a common denominator for two or more fractions. When that task arrives you are prepared with a solid foundation.

One more example problem as a finale.

44. Fully reduce the fraction 330462

Need more example problems? Check the OER links!

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Equivalent Fractions in §4.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Factorization in §2.5

(§2.5 teaches a Ladder Method as an alternative to making Factor Trees to find prime factors)

Reducing Fractions in §4.2

Arithmetic by OpenText

Reducing Fractions in §2.2.2

Comparing Fractions in §2.2.3

videos

Kahn Academy

Equivalent Fractions

Visualizing Equivalent Fractions

Equivalent Fraction Models

Fractions and Decimals §4.1, §4.5

Decimals to Fractions

To change a decimal into a fraction, we just say its formal name and then reduce if possible. This is one reason why we need to remember place value names!

45. Write in fraction format.

One way to review converting decimals to fractions is to play The Decimals to Fractions Game.

Game Rules: The Decimals to Fractions Game

A moderator provides five numbers.

Students, in teams with one representative at the board, race to change three of the numbers at a time nto a correct decimal-to-fraction equation. The three numbers used become the decimal, numerator, and denominator.

How many solutions can the class find?

Example of the Decimals to Fractions Game

The five numbers are 1, 2, 5, 6, and 30.

One possible solution uses the three numbers 1, 2, and 5 to create the equation 0.5 = 12

A second possible solution uses the three numbers 2, 6, and 30 to create the equation 0.2 = 630

factor game

The five numbers are 1, 4, 8, 25, and 125.

The five numbers are 4, 8, 16, 20, and 25.

The five numbers are 3, 6, 15, 20, and 75.

Fractions to Decimals

To change a fraction into a decimal, we just treat the fraction as a division problem. We do numerator ÷ denominator = decimal.

46. Write in decimal format.

If we are not allowed to use a calculator, we can sometimes avoid long division. There is a clever way to change a fraction to a decimal by making the denominator a power of ten

Cleverness

125 = 125 × 44 = 4100 = 4 hundredths = 0.04

25 is a factor of 100. So we can "un-reduce" to make the denominator 100, then say the fraction's formal name.

However, this clever trick is not really a shortcut. In most real life situations, checking whether fraction denominator were factor of 10, 100, etc. slows you down a lot compared to simply using a calculator.

Repeating Decimals to Fractions

We cheated above by pretending that all decimals have a formal name.

But some decimals do not!

Definition

Repeating decimals have a never-ending pattern. We write them using a bar over the repeating portion instead of ellipsis to avoid ambiguity.

Why We Need a Bar

Which do we mean by 0.321...

0.3211111...?       0.321212121...       0.321321321...

Note that a repeating decimal has no formal name. So we cannot use the usual method to change it into a fraction.

For the three most common repeating decimals it is best to simply memorize their fraction equivalents.

Memorize These

One-third = ?

Two-thirds = ?

One-sixth = ?

There is a method for changing a repeating decimal into a fraction, but it is tricky.

Knowing how to do this is not required. We have not discussed equations yet. This will not appear on any homework assignment, quiz or test!

The method involves setting the repeating decimal equal to y, multiplying both sides of the equation by a 10 one or more times, and then subtracting the two equations before solving.

It makes more sense when you see it happen.

47. Change 0.222222... into a fraction.

Ratios and Rates §2.3, §5.1, §5.2

We are not done yet with thinking about fractions.

So far all of our fractions were proper fractions. They were cake slice numbers. The denominator counted the number of pieces. The numerator counted the shaded pieces.

Cooks or carpenters deal with those fractions daily. But for many people their real-life fractions are not like that. Their fractions do have a sense of "total pieces" and "shaded pieces".

When is a fraction not a fraction? Cue the suspenseful music...

Let's notice something interesting about fractions and division.

We know that we can change fractions to decimals by doing division. In this sense fractions are like division problems waiting to happen.

A Fraction as Division Waiting to Happen

15 = 1 ÷ 5 = 0.2

We often reduce fractions. In this sense fractions are not like division. When we divide one number by another we do not reduce the numbers first.

This Hurts My Brain

105 = 10 ÷ 5 = 2 ÷ 1 = 2

It looks really weird to "reduce" 10 ÷ 5 and change it into 2 ÷ 1 in the middle of a division problem. No one does that!

We talk about "equivalent fractions" but never "equivalent division problems".

Snoopy vulture So our first clue is that fraction format is a good way to patiently lurk like a vulture, spying on a situation that does not yet involve division but might soon.

This happens frequently when we compare numbers.

A package of 24 energy drinks costs $35.99. Does anyone care how much one drink costs? Maybe. We lurk, waiting to see if division will happen.

A contractor submits a $2,800 bid for installing a 120 foot long fence. Does anyone care about how much this costs per foot? Maybe. We lurk, waiting to see if division will happen.

So we found a reason to deal with a pair of numbers as if they were the numerator and denominator in a fraction, even though the numbers have meaning very unlike "total pieces" and "shaded pieces".

This is the job for a ratio.

Definition

A ratio is a comparison of two numbers, usually written as a fraction.

Some ratios do have a sense of "total pieces" and "shaded pieces".

48. Snoopy interviewed 10 dentists and 8 of them approved of a certain breath mint. Write this comparison as a ratio.

Other ratios do not have a sense of "total pieces" and "shaded pieces".

49. The Red Baron can fly 38 miles in 40 minutes. Write this comparison as a ratio.

There are even ratios with a hidden sense of "total pieces" and "shaded pieces".

50. A classroom has 4 left-handed people and 16 right-handed people. Write this comparison as a ratio.

We could look at the ratio and find the whole (20 total people). But the provided numbers do not explicitly tell us the whole.

Snoopy upside down Notice that, like Snoopy pretending to be the Flying Ace, we can even write a ratio upside down. This does not lose any meaning. It is not confusing.

How different from a normal fraction, in which the numerator and denominator count "total pieces" and "shaded pieces". Those would have their meaning changed if written upside down.

51. A classroom has 4 left-handed people and 16 right-handed people. Write this comparison as a different ratio, "upside down" compared to your previous answer.

Often it does not make sense to reduce a ratio. If I reduced Snoopy's breath mint ratio I would switch from an 810 which involved numbers he actually counted to 45. Neither the 4 nor 5 represent something from the real world. He did not interview 5 dentists, of whom 4 approved. Yes, the fractions have the same value. But it would be silly to reduce this ratio for no reason.

breath mints for dogs Maybe his friends were also asking dentists about other brands of breath mints. But his friends were lazier, and each only spoke to five dentists. In that situation reducing his ratio might be useful, so it could be more easily compared to the ratios representing his friends' data.

Reducing ratios can be sensible. The point is merely that it is not always sensible, unlike how most math classes have a rule that fraction answers should be fully reduced.

Similarly I would lie if I changed Snoopy's ratio to 80100 this makes it sound like he did a lot more work by interviewing 100 dentists. (Note that many people, especially in advertising, do change ratios in this manner.)

Tangentially, not all ratios are written as fractions. The ratio 810 can also be written as 8 to 10 or as 8 : 10. But in real life, almost no one but the writers of SAT tests and gamblers write ratios that way.

Bittinger Alert

Time to look at Bittinger textbook problems!

§5.1 is about writing ratios. There is not much to say about writing one number on top of another.

But there a few things the textbook does to make this trivial task somewhat interesting. We'll look at three such complications.

First, consider problem §5.1 # 21.

A question that asks for two ratios is a bit strange, but is nothing difficult. When making a ratio either order is allowed, and this problem asks for both. This time both pieces of information are provided.

Second, look at problem §5.1 # 23.

We seldom simplify ratios. But we can play that game if the textbook asks us to do so.

Finally, try problem §5.1 # 30.

How do we simplify a fraction made of decimals?

Some ratios include words to label the numbers.

A Ratio with Word Labels

A child has 18 green candies and 9 yellow candies.

We could write this rate as 18 greens9 yellows.

Time for another definition.

Definition

A rate is a kind of ratio in which the two numbers have different labels.

Once again, we could change a rate into an equivalent fraction but typically do not do so to preserve the record of a real life situation.

When we stop lurking and finally do the division problem, our answer should retain those labels.

Division changes a rate into a different rate whose second value is 1.

This happens so often there is a special name for it.

Definition

A unit rate is a rate whose second value is 1.

52. A child has 18 green candies and 9 yellow candies. Write this as a unit rate.

This is subtle. 18 ÷ 9 = 2. But our answer is not the plain number 2.

Because we keep both labels, and we write the comparison as a fraction, we still have a rate.

53. Kim solved a 300 piece jigsaw puzzle in 90 minutes. Write this as a unit rate.

We often express unit rates in English by omitting the denominator of 1 and using the word "per" to represent the fraction bar between the unit labels.

54. A child has 18 green candies and 9 yellow candies. What is the average number of greens per yellow?

55. Kim solved a 300 piece jigsaw puzzle in 90 minutes. What was her average rate of pieces solved per minute?

Any rate can be changed into a unit rate by treating the rate as a division problem. Doing "top ÷ bottom" simplifies the rate into a unit rate.

Unit rates make comparisons easy. We might prefer either the biggest or the smallest unit rate.

Shopping Example

I am shopping for fancy hand lotion. Which is a better deal, 10 ounces for $5 or 24 ounces for $8?

If we find ounces per dollar we want the most ounces per dollar.

In the first case, imagine someone with $1 shopping at a gas station. They want the most gas for their $1.

If we find dollars per ounce we want the least cost per ounce.

In the second case, imagine someone with who needs 1 ounce of something shopping at the bulk food section of a grocery store. They need an unusual ingredient for a recipe, and want to spend as little as possible for the correct amount.

Congratulations again! You are at the end of the second subtopic (Fraction Format) for our first big topic (Shapeshifting).

You have now thought more carefully than most people about writing one number on top of another, and waiting before doing division. That might not sound like a significant accomplishment, but it will help you in future math topics.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Introduction to Ratios and Rates in §6.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Ratios and Rate in §5.6

Arithmetic by OpenText

Ratios and Rate in §4.1

videos

Kahn Academy

Intro to Ratios

Ratio Review

Basic Ratios

Part to Whole Ratios

Intro to Rates

Solving Unit Rate Problem

Solving Unit Price Problem

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 5 Test, Problem 1: Write the ratio "85 to 97" in fraction notation.

Chapter 5 Test, Problem 2: Write the ratio "0.34 to 124" in fraction notation.

Chapter 5 Test, Problem 6: A twelve pound shankless ham contains sixteen servings. What is the rate in servings per pound?

Chapter 5 Test, Problem 7: A car will travel 464 miles on 14.5 gallons of gasoline in highway driving. What is the rate in miles per gallon?

Chapter 5 Test, Problem 8: A sixteen ounce bag of salad greens costs $2.39. Find the unit price in cents per ounce.


Percent Format

Decimal Point Scoots §4.3, §4.4

As we transition from fraction format to percent format, let us review what happens when we multiply or divide by powers of ten.

56. Multiply by powers of ten. Use a calculator if you wish.

The decimal point scoots to the right.

How many scoots just happened compared to the zeroes in the power of ten?

Now let's look at division.

57. Divide by powers of ten. Use a calculator if you wish.

The decimal point scoots to the left.

How many scoots happen compared to the zeroes in the power of ten?

The next step is to multiply and divide by decimal amounts. These are powers of one-tenth.

58. Multiply by powers of ten. Use a calculator if you wish.

The decimal point scoots to the left.

How many scoots just happened compared to the zeroes in the power of one-tenth?

So dividing by powers of ten works just like multiplying by powers of one-tenth.

59. Divide by powers of ten. Use a calculator if you wish.

The decimal point scoots to the right.

How many scoots just happened compared to the zeroes in the power of one-tenth?

So multiplying by powers of ten works just like dividing by powers of one-tenth.

60. Your turn, to practice multiplication for reliability and speed. Do the following without a calculator.

61. Your turn again, to practice division for reliability and speed. Do the following without a calculator.

Four Replacements for %

Our society is used to using numerical scales to rate how nice things are.

Here is table to complete. We'll just make up answers, rating things.

Rating Scales

Scale of
1 to 5
Scale of
1 to 10
Scale of
1 to 100
Jogging   
Banana Runts   
Elevator Music   

four stars In English, the popularity of product reviews and Auto Club travel guides means a "star" is assumed to be a rating on a scale of 1 to 5.

There is no nice name in English for how something rates on a scale of 1 to 10.

percent symbol

The name for how something rates on a scale of 1 to 100 used to be called per cent, meaning "per 100" since the word "cent" means "100". But over time those words became customarily squished together, and now we say percent.

This idea of "per 100" or "out of 100" is so important that we should be more formal.

Definition

Percent means "out of 100".

Therefore the symbol % can be replaced with "out of 100".

By the way, we know four ways to do "out of 100" with arithmetic.

Let's do each of those four operations from the definition of percent.

62. Use each of the four ways to do "out of 100" with arithmetic.

These examples will look incomplete. They are incomplete. Very soon we will see when each is actually useful. For now we are merely warming up.

If you are a visual learner, it might help to picture percentages using a grid of 100 boxes or a circle with 100 tic marks. These can help us draw pictures for "out of 100". The diagrams are especially helpful for thinking carefully about small percentages.

63. Use the grid to represent percentages.

square with 100 boxes

64. Use the circle to represent percentages.

circle with 100 tic marks

In real life percents often come as a set of values that add up to 100%, and a missing value must be found using subtraction.

65. How much orange juice is sold?

percent-juices.png

But that type of problem only involves subtraction, so it is too boring to appear again in this class.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Percent in §7.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Understand Percent in §6.1

Arithmetic by OpenText

Ratios and Rate in §3.4.1

videos

None yet

Percents, Decimals, and Fractions §6.1, §6.2

Remember our four ways to create "out of 100" using arithmetic?

Let's explore which help us change the format of numbers. We can change among decimal format, percent format, and fractions.

Percent to Decimal

What if we start in percent format and want to switch to decimal format?

We need to replace the % symbol using arithmetic. Which of the four versions of what percent means is the most helpful in this situation?

66. Write 47.1% as a decimal.

67. Your turn again, to practice for reliability and speed. Do the following without a calculator.

Decimal to Percent

What if we start in decimal format and want to switch to percent format?

Now we need to create the % symbol by "un-doing" one of those four options. Which of the four versions of what percent means is the most helpful in this situation?

68. Write 0.75 as a percent.

69. Your turn again, to practice for reliability and speed. Do the following without a calculator.

Let's do more examples of changing from decimal format to percent format.

RIP LOP

Definition

The acronym RIP LOP summarizes moving between decimal format and percent format. It stands for Right Into Percent, Left Out of Percent.

Notice that RIP LOP does not tell us "two places of decimal scoots". But we can remember that we always scoot twice.

Percents are always about 100, and 100 always has two zeroes, and we saw earlier that multiplying or dividing by 100 always causes two scoots.

70. Write 0.76 as a percent.

71. Write 3.3% as a decimal.

Percent to Fraction

What if we start in percent format and want to switch to fraction format?

We again need to replace the % symbol using arithmetic. Which of the four versions of what percent means is the most helpful in this situation?

72. Write 42% as a fraction.

Let's do another example.

73. Write 80% as a fraction.

In the previous two example we dealt with a whole number in percent format. What about changing a fraction in percent format into a fraction not in percent format?

A different one the four versions of what percent means is the most helpful in this situation!

74. Write 2 35 % as a fraction.

Fraction to Percent

What if we start in fraction format and want to switch to percent format?

A few fractions are too easy. We can simply look at 51100 and see that it is "51 out of 100" or 51%.

In general it is quickest to use division to change the fraction into decimal format, and then use RIP LOP.

75. Write 14 as a percent.

76. Write 78 as a percent.

Notice that our percent format answer may include a repeating decimal.

77. Write 19 as a percent.

Congratulations! You are at the end of the third subtopic (Decimal Format) for our first big topic (Shapeshifting).

You have now thought more carefully than most people about the relationship between decimals, percentages, and fractions. You word problems arrive you are prepared with a solid foundation.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Decimal Scoots in §5.3 (awkward)

Decimal Scoots in §6.4 (much better)

Decimals to Fractions in §5.1

Decimals, Percents, and Fractions in §7.1

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Decimal Scoots for Powers of 10 in §5.2

Decimal Scoots for Powers of One-Tenth in §7.5

The RIP LOP Pattern in §6.1

Decimal to Fraction Format in §5.1

Fractions to Decimal Format in §5.3

Decimals, Fractions, and Percents in §6.1

Arithmetic by OpenText

Decimal Scoots on Whole Numbers in §1.3.1

Decimal Scoots on Whole Numbers in §1.4

Decimal Scoots on Decimals in §3.3.1

Decimal Scoots on Decimals in §3.3.2

videos

Kahn Academy

Multiplying a Decimal by a Power of 10

Dividing a Decimal by a Power of 10

Dividing a Decimal by a Power of 10: Pattern

Multiplying Decimals by 10, 100, and 1000 (worksheet)

Dividing Decimals by 10, 100, and 1000 (worksheet)

morgankenneth12

Percents, Fractions, Decimals Review

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 6 Test, Problem 1: Write 14.7% as a decimal.

Chapter 6 Test, Problem 2: Write 0.38 as a percent.

Chapter 6 Test, Problem 4: Write 65% as a fraction.

Chapter 6 Test, Problem 3: Write 118 as a percent.


Measurement Units

We begin our topic of measurement unit conversions with a definition.

Definition

A measurement's unit is the word that labels the measurement.

Unit = Word Label for Measurements

I am 63 inches tall. The measurement unit is inches.

By convention we use plurals of such words when talking about units.

Plural, Please

A large box is 1 yard tall. The measurement unit is yards.

Note that unit rates have two units.

A Rate Comparing Two Units

A speed limit is 30 miles per hour. The measurement units are miles and hours.

There are measurements that use more than two units, but we will not use them in this class. As one example, thinking carefully about a 20-watt light bulb requires considering six units!

Watt?

A watt is the rate of power of moving a weight of one kilogram at a speed of one meter per second when resisted by a deceleration of one meter per second per second.

Units and Their History §8.2

Time to take a short break from mathematics to talk about this history of measurement units. (A thank you to Wikipedia for providing much of the following history lesson.)

Where did we get our measurement units? The older system of units from Europe is now named Standard, American, or Imperial units. The newer system is named SI units, but most people still call it by its older name, the metric system.

Length

We'll start by talking about units for measuring length.

Many European countries used lengths named the "inch", "foot", and "yard".

European historical records from the twelfth century show much more care in measuring the inch than the foot or yard. Apparently a town would measure an inch by taking the average value of thumb width of a few men, which produced a result that had little regional variation. Carpentry and other crafts needed a standardized inch more than a foot or yard.

Having twelve inches in one foot was a remnant of the Roman Empire. So a foot was always twelve inches. This was much longer than nearly everyone's feet, but could be estimated by stepping heel-toe heel-toe in boots.

For many centuries a "yard" meant many things in Europe. The common theme was that a yard was about a stride length. In different places a yard was either three feet, average waist circumference, or two cubits (elbow to elbow when touching fingertips). In places that based yards on feet, a yard was always three feet.

The metric system was created in France, beginning in 1791. In 1793 the French Academy of Sciences adopted as the country's official unit of length a meter, defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from the Equator to the North Pole through Paris.

How long was this meter? It is the same meter we use today. The expedition sent to measure this distance was only off by by one-fiftieth of a percent. This was remarkable accuracy considering the technology available then! But it does mean the meter we use is not quite the originally intended length, so people felt free to adjust the definition in later years.

In 1889 the first General Conference on Weights and Measures established a new definition. This group built an International Prototype Metre: a bar composed of an alloy of ninety percent platinum and ten percent iridium, marked with two lines whose distance apart was measured at the melting point of ice. The purpose was to keep the same length but have a physical example that could be easily copied by anyone visiting Paris.

Many of the rulers we use have one side with inches and feet, and the other side with centimeters and millimeters. Can you look at such a ruler and see that one inch is about two-and-a-half centimeters? Interest in redefining measurement units for length resurfaced in the late 1950s. Since the meter had a proptype but the inch did not, in 1958 the inch was redefined as exactly 2.54 centimeters.

In 1960 the meter was redefined again, this time as 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red emission line in the electromagnetic spectrum of the krypton-86 atom in a vacuum. This definition again aimed to keep the length unchanged while creating a physical example that could be duplicated almost exactly by anyone, anywhere in the world, with common laboratory equipment.

In 1983 the meter was redefined for the last time. Now it is the distance traveled by light in free space in 1299,792,458 of a second. This final definition again kept the length unchanged, and finally created a physical example that could be duplicated exactly by anyone, anywhere in the world, with common laboratory equipment. Much easier and less expensive than visiting Paris to measure a metal bar!

A meter is broken up into 100 centimeters or 1,000 millimeters. (To help remember this think about 100 years in one century and 1,000 years in one millenium.)

Mass

The Roman Empire used weights from which we get the words "pounds" and "ounces". After the Roman Empire, an ounce saw various definitions across Europe, usually 450 or 480 grains of barleycorn because that grain is very uniform. The Roman pound was 12 ounces. But soon after the Roman Empire ended, most European merchants switched to a sixteen ounce pound.

For the metric system, a gram was defined as the mass of one cubic centimeter of water. This is a small amount! It is useful in the laboratory, but not as practical for commerce. So 1,000 grams (a kilogram) is used more in normal daily life.

(A question to ponder: Why wasn't one cubic meter of water used as the standard mass? That would be a logical choice, since a meter is the standard length.)

As an aside, scientists use the word mass to denote how much physical stuff an object is made up of. This is different than weight because it is independent of an object's location. The weight of an object changes proportionally to the local gravity.

78. The moon's gravity is one-sixth as strong as the Earth's gravity. If I weigh 162 pounds on Earth, how much do I weigh on the moon?

(My mother used to have a t-shirt that said, "I'm not overweight, I'm just on the wrong planet" because she had a thyroid condition that meant she would always be overweight.)

Volume

Volume was not used much until the eighteenth century. A standard size bag was much more difficult to measure, let alone construct, than a standard length rod/cord or standard weight of barleycorn grains.

For most of history, volume measurements were not used. When they were used, they were merchants' jargon for the volume taken up by a certain weight of a certain trade good. For example, a gallon was originally the volume of eight pounds of wheat.

In modern times the volumes of the American/Standard/Imperial system have been standardized.

Bakers and canners might have the advantage of already knowing these conversion rates by heart.

Is there an easy way to remember the parts of a gallon? You betcha.

Here is our gallon.

parts of a gallon

If we chop it into fourths we get quarts. The name quarts is like "quarters".

parts of a gallon

Each quart is two pints.

parts of a gallon

Each pint is two cups. Think about two short one-cup milk cartons stacked on top of each other to become the size of a one-pint carton of whipping cream.

parts of a gallon

Some students prefer to combine all of those diagrams into a single, more complicated picture.

parts of a gallon

Mind your P's and Q's

Pubs in England used to give credit to regular customers. People would only get paid once per month, and in the meanwhile the bartender would mark p's and q's (for pints and quarts) below their name on the wall behind the bar. At the end of the month this record would show what they owed to bar.

The expression "Mind your p's and q's" meant "Don't drink too much before payday!"

Yet nowadays we usually say that phrase to young children!

Be aware that there is a different unit of volume called a "dry quart" which is not quite the same amount as liquid quarts. We will not use in Math 20. But if you are part of the Willamette Valley grass seed business and shop for bushels of grain the dry quart is important! (It is almost the same amount as a liquid quart, so for grocery shopping no one notices the difference.)

Since a gram was defined as the mass of one cubic centimeter of water, that same size cube was used to define volume in the metric system. A milliliter was defined as the volume of one cubic centimeter. Note that some professions use "cubic centimeter" or cc instead of milliliter.

A milliliter is pretty small! So the liter (1,000 milliliters) is the size more appropriate for most practice uses.

(A question to ponder: Why wasn't a cubic meter used as the standard volume? That would be a logical choice, since a meter is the standard length.)

videos

Math Antics

Intro to the Metric System

One Step Conversions §8.1, §8.3, §8.4, §8.5

What happens when we convert between measurement units?

Some problems involve either multiplying or dividing.

79. How many feet are in 30 inches?

We know there are 12 inches in 1 foot.

In the above example we grouped together inches to make feet. You can imagine fusing, bundling, or gluing inches into groups of 12.

80. How many inches are in 7.5 feet?

In the above example we split apart feet to make inches. You can imagine breaking, distributing, or shattering each foot into 12 inches.

So we can see the following guidelines:

Either direction happens in one step.

Definition

A one-step unit conversion can happen when we switch a measurement's unit and we know the rate that compares the old and new units.

81. Your turn, to practice one-step unit conversions for reliability and speed.

More About SI Prefixes §8.2, §8.4, §8.5

We have already seem some examples of metric prefixes:

These examples are part of a general pattern.

Here are the metric prefixes used in these math lectures:

In this list (unit) is a placeholder for the plain unit, whether meters, grams, or liters.

These are prefixes are part of a longer list.

kilo hecto deca (unit) deci centi milli micro
× 1,000 × 100 × 10 × 1 ÷ 10 ÷ 100 ÷ 1,000 ÷ 1,000,000

Strangely, there are no prefixes for the two spots between milli and micro (for ten-thousandths and hundred-thousandths of a unit).

Even though we do not use hecto-, deca-, or deci- it is still useful to be familiar with this longer list. Why? Because of a shortcut!

But for the shortcut we do not write the whole list. Just the initials are sufficient.

SI Prefix Initials

k      h      d      unit      d      c      m      •      •      micro

Many math students memorize a cute saying (try making your own!) and remember the acronym for the first seven spots. For example, "King Henry does usually drink chocolate milk" or "Killer hobos dance under dazzling crystal mobiles."

Writing the acronym at the top of your homework and your test scratch paper is a great idea when doing SI-to-SI unit conversions. There is a shortcut!

SI One-Step Conversion Shortcut

To convert between metric prefixes, first write the list of all SI prefix initials.

Then count decimal point scoots: for every "place" you move right or left along the list of initials, move the decimal point the same way.

82. How many millimeters is 2.8 centimeters?

83. A calculator is 16 centimeters long. Change this to meters and millimeters.

84. A backpack weighs 6,480 grams. Change this to kilograms.

85. A shampoo bottle contains 450 cubic centimeters. Change this to milliliters and liters.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Unit Conversion: American System in §6.3

Unit Conversion: Metric System in §6.4

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Systems of Measurement in §7.5

Arithmetic by OpenText

U. S. Measurement in §4.4

Metric Measurement in §4.5

videos

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 3: How many meters is 6 kilometers?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 4: How many centimeters is 8.7 millimeters?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 7: Something is 0.5 cm wide. Express this width in meters and millimeters.

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 8: Marvin L. Bittinger is 1.8542 meters tall. Express this height in centimeters and millimeters.

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 9: How many liters is 3,080 milliliters?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 10: How many milliliters is 0.25 liters?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 13: How many grams is 3.8 kilograms?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 15: How many grams is 2,200 milligrams?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 21: How many micrograms is 0.37 milligrams?

Exponents and Square Roots §8.7

Exponents

Consider this very simple square.

square foot

We know the area of a rectangle (which includes a square) is length × width. So the area of that square is 1 foot × 1 foot = 1 square foot.

The answer is labeled with square feet because it is counting how many squares it takes to cover the area.

If we changed each side from feet to inches, how should we write the area?

square inches

Now the area is 12 inches × 12 inches = 144 square inches.

The answer is labeled with square inches because it is counting how many squares it takes to cover the area, using smaller squares this time.

square inches again

Sometimes square inches are written abbreviated as sq. in. or as in2.

Similar abbreviations are used with other square units. Square feet can be sq. ft. or ft2. Square centimeters can be sq. cm. or cm2.

Later in the class, when we deal with shapes that are not rectangles, it will help to think of answers written in "square units" not as multiplication problem answers but as counting squares.

Usually we think of an exponent as its own number. It floats above its "base" and tells you how many times to multiply.

4 3 = 4 × 4 × 4 = 64

But for measurement units it can sometimes help to think of an exponent of 2 as the second half of a two-part number. It is saying "instead of a line of the base length, we are drawing a big square and then counting little squares".

(4 inches)2 = 4 inches × 4 inches = 16 square inches

86. What is the difference between these two amounts?

22 ft              2 ft2

Square Roots

We actually just talked about square roots! You might not have noticed because we did not make that clear. Let's add clarity with a definition.

Definition

The square root of a number is the amount that, when multiplied by itself, gets to that number.

For example, the square root of 25 is 5 because 5 × 5 = 25.

square root diagram

We usually write square roots with a symbol.

square root symbol

But do not forget the definition just because you are looking at a symbol!

The picture we used earlier of a square foot broken up into inches...

square inches

...shows us that the square root of 144 is 12.

87. Use a calculator to find the square root of the following numbers: 4, 6, 8, and 16.

Why are only some of those answers whole numbers?

Definition

When we multiply a whole number by itself, we call the answer a perfect square.

Perfect squares have nice square roots. When 144 or less, they are easy to find with mental math if you have memorized the multiplication table up to 12s.

88. Draw the two perfect squares with area 4 and 16 from the previous problem.

open educational resources

Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods Mathematics

Exponents in §1.4

Square Roots in §5.7

Prealgebra by Santa Ana College

Exponents in §2.1

Square Roots in §5.7

Arithmetic by OpenText

Exponents and Square Roots in §1.5.1

videos

Bittinger Chapter Tests, 11th Edition

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 29: Twelve square feet is how many square inches?

Chapter 8 Test, Problem 30: Three square centimeters is how many square meters?

Chapter 9 Test, Problem 28: What is the square root of 225?

Chapter 9 Test, Problem 29: What is the square root of 87? (Round to the thousandths place.)