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LESSON PLAN in Measurements, SI Units. Last updated October 13, 2020.


In this lesson, students will review the characteristics of metric measurement, and practice using measurement tools. They will then take on the role of an intern on the Zombie Prevention Task Force and use their measurement skills to develop a vaccine in an escape room activity.

Grade Level

Middle School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
  • Crosscutting Concepts:
    • Scale, proportion, and quantity.


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to

  • Identify and use metric units of measurement.
  • Identify and use the appropriate tools to obtain measurements.
  • Convert between metric units of measurement.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Measurement
  • Metric Units


Teacher Preparation:

Day 1: 20 minutes
Day 2: 30-60 minutes (depending on familiarity with breakout boxes)
Day 3: 10 minutes

Day 1: 40 minutes
Day 2: 40 minutes
Day 3: 40 minutes


Day 1 (per group):

  • Student Handout (Day 1)
  • 2 Metric Rulers
  • Balance
  • 2 Graduated cylinders
  • Thermometer
  • Timing device (clock, stopwatch, etc.)
  • 2, Beakers (100 mL)
  • 2 mL Baking soda
  • 10 mL Vinegar
  • Small wooden or plastic block
  • Irregularly shaped rock that will fit into a graduated cylinder
  • Optional PowerPoint slide presentation (available to download)

*Note: Materials could also be shared between groups or organized in stations for all students to use as they rotate.

Day 2 (per group):

  • Student Handout (Day 2)
  • Researcher’s Log
  • Hint Document (for teacher only)
  • Breakout box, Breakout EDU is an example of a company that carries these products:
    • 1 three-digit lock,
    • 1 four-number lock,
    • 1 five-letter lock,
    • Small box,
    • Large box,
    • Hasp
    • *Note: As an alternative to using physical breakout boxes: The teacher can hand the students materials as they determine the combination for each of the locks
  • 4 test tubes and test tube rack
  • Block
  • Ruler
  • 5 mL salt
  • 5 mL Baking soda
  • 15 mL Vinegar
  • Food coloring (a few drops red, blue, and green)
  • Water
  • Thermometer
  • Optional PowerPoint slide presentation (available to download)

Day 3:

  • Student Handout (Day 3)
  • Optional PowerPoint slide presentation (available to download)


  • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
  • Students should wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
  • When students complete the lab, instruct them how to clean up their materials and
    dispose of any chemicals.

    Teacher Notes

    Day 1:

    • The materials for day one will be needed throughout the duration of the three-day activity. Ideally each small group will have access to their own sets of materials. If access to materials is limited, students can rotate through stations or share materials.
    • To begin the lesson, students should be informed that they have been selected to serve as interns for the Zombie Prevention Taskforce. The goal of the taskforce is to develop a vaccine to prevent healthy individuals from becoming zombies. As part of their internship they are tasked with becoming masters of measurement.
    • Inform the students that their initial task is to explore the types of measurements that scientists can make in a lab and the units and tools they use to make those measurements.
    • Hand out the student worksheet and have students work on the “Accessing Prior Knowledge” section on their own.
    • After a few minutes, ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class. Then move on to the “Class Discussion” portion of the worksheet.
    • Ask for volunteers to share their ideas with the class and write their correct responses on the board or a document that can be shared with the class. For this lesson, students should identify:
    Volume Ruler
    Graduated cylinder
    Centimeters cubed
    Mass Balance Grams
    Length Ruler Centimeters
    Temperature Thermometer Degrees Celsius
    Time Clock Minutes, seconds, etc.
    • As students describe a type of measurement and tool, the teacher can ask students to model the use of the tool for the class.
    • Once the students have been introduced to/reminded of the types of tools and units used for different measurements, they should be placed in small groups of three to five students.
    • A complete Answer Key document is available to download separately.
    • The groups should then work to fill out the measurement charts on the student handout. For “Part 1”, students should measure the items at their tables (block, vinegar, baking soda, irregularly shaped rock that can fit into a graduated cylinder). Students may need to be instructed about how to use water displacement to find the volume of an irregularly shaped object. This can be accomplished in four steps:
    1. Measure a quantity of water in a graduated cylinder.
    2. Place the irregularly shaped object into the water in the graduated cylinder.
    3. Measure the new level of water.
    4. Subtract the original level of water from the final level of water.
    • For “Part 2” of the student handout students will measure out vinegar and baking soda and then record the time and temperature of the reaction when the two are combined. The students will use this data to chart the change in temperature.

    Day 2:

    • Teachers should refer to the supplemental document available to download, Breakout Box Preparation Guide for specific preparation instructions.
    • The teacher will explain to the students that the researchers in the Zombie Prevention Taskforce were close to a breakthrough on their vaccine when they suddenly disappeared. It is feared that the researchers have turned into zombies. The building is in lockdown and the interns must use measurement to access the proper materials and finish the vaccine. The students have 30 minutes before they must be airlifted to safety and leave all of the materials behind. To ensure that all groups are able to finish the activity in time, the teacher should provide hints and clues to groups that need them. Please see the Hints document (available to download) for additional information.
    • Place the students into small groups and provide them with the initial clues (Researcher’s Log document) to begin their mission.
    • While the students are working, the teacher should be available to provide some hints along the way to encourage students to keep working and to help them stay on the right track.
    • It may also be helpful to remind students to round their measurements to the nearest whole number for the purposes of this activity.

    Day 3:

    • The students should be congratulated for developing the vaccine in time. They should be informed that their next task is to scale up the production of the vaccine to ensure that it can be shipped globally. This will be the formal assessment.

    For the Student

    Masters of Measurement: Zombie Prevention Taskforce Training (Day 1)

    Accessing Prior Knowledge

    1. What is measurement?
    2. Why do scientists use measurements?
    3. What tools and units can we use in our science class?

    Class Discussion

    Fill in the chart below as we discuss the information in class.



    To prepare for your internship with the Zombie Prevention Taskforce you will display your ability to conduct various types of measurements.


    • 2 Beakers
    • Ruler
    • Balance
    • 2 mL of Baking Soda
    • 10 mL of Vinegar
    • Graduated Cylinder
    • Thermometer
    • Timer
    • Rock


      • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
      • Wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
      • Follow the teacher’s instructions for cleanup of materials and disposal of


          Part 1: Measurement Practice

          1. Find as many measurements as possible for the items at your table.
            Baking Soda

            Part 2: Time and Temperature

            1. Measure 4 g of baking soda and pour it into a beaker.
            2. Record the temperature of the baking soda in the initial column on the data
            3. Use a graduated cylinder to measure 10 mL of vinegar.
            4. Record the temperature of the vinegar in the initial column on the data table.
            5. Pour the vinegar into the baking soda. Be sure to start the timer and be sure
              that the thermometer is still in the baking soda beaker.
            6. Record the temperature of the mixture every thirty seconds.
              10 Seconds
              20 Seconds
              30 Seconds
              40 Seconds


              1. Draw a line graph of the data you collected for part 2 of the activity.
              2. What happened to the line on the graph? Why?


                After completing today’s lab activities, why is measurement valuable to scientists?

                Masters of Measurement: Zombie Vaccine (Day 2)


                Interns, we have terrible news. If you are reading this information, our researchers have disappeared. It is highly likely that they have become zombies. You must finish their research and develop the vaccine. Unfortunately, the researchers kept their work secret. Follow the clues to finish their work and create the vaccine. You only have 30 minutes to complete your work before rescuers will airlift you from the area.

                The researchers left behind their research log. Review it carefully because it contains the information you need to develop the vaccine.


                You may find it helpful to take notes or write on the researcher’s log.

                As you find clues, record the information below:

                Group Number
                Three-digit lock
                Four-digit lock
                Letter lock
                Test tube letter
                Sample letter

                Masters of Measurement: Zombie Vaccine Scale-up (Day 3)


                Now that we know which ingredients to use to create the vaccine, it is time to scale up the vaccine so it can be shared globally. Use the knowledge you have gained over the past two class periods to work independently on this task.

                1. The researchers determined that the ratio of chemical A to chemical B is 2 to
                  If we have 140 mL of chemical A, how many milliliters of chemical B do we
                2. The vaccine needs to be shipped to various places around the world. How
                  many cubic meters of the vaccine will fit in a box that is 2 meters tall, 3
                  meters long, and 2 meters wide?
                3. What is the mass of 2 ml of baking soda?
                4. What is the mass of 10 ml of vinegar?
                5. What happens when the vinegar and baking soda are combined?
                6. What is the mass of the vinegar and baking soda after it has been combined?
                7. Think about your response to question six. Why do you think the mass of the
                  baking soda and vinegar separately is higher than the mass after they were
                8. When the chemicals that create the vaccine are combined, they result in a
                  chemical reaction. Use the data table below to create a line graph.
                  20 seconds
                  40 seconds
                  23 °C
                  19 °C
                  18 °C