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LESSON PLAN in Observations, Physical Properties, Measurements, SI Units, ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program. Last updated August 26, 2022.


In this lesson, students will learn about standards through a reading about the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is the U.S. body that defines standards. There are a series of activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as plans for a substitute teacher, as most of the activities are self-guided.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

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

  • HS-PS2-6: Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


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

  • Understand why standards are important.
  • Realize standards definitions evolve and change over time.
  • Identify when it is appropriate to have a standard to compare to.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Measurements
  • SI Units
  • Physical Properties
  • Observations


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes
Lesson: Approximate times for students to complete each activity in the lesson:

  • Anticipation Guide: 5 minutes
  • Reading: 20 minutes
  • History Exercise: 10–15 minutes
  • Graphic Organizer: 10–15 minutes
  • Presentation: time will vary


  • Reading document and any lessons that accompany it that you want to include.


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes


Lesson Overview:

The lesson includes multiple components as outlined individually below. The Reading is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:

  • Introduction: Introduce the lesson with a few conversation starters. What things do we measure in chemistry (or in general)? How do we know we have measured correctly? Why do we need standards in measurement? Who defines the standards?
  • Reading: National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Activity: Anticipation Guide
    • The anticipation guides help engage students by activating prior knowledge and stimulating student interest before reading. If class time permits, discuss students’ responses to each statement before reading each article. Then, while they read, students should look for evidence supporting or refuting their initial responses.
    • Additional questions are included to put into perspective for students why standards are important.
  • Activity: History Exercise
    • While they read, students order events correctly, then answer a few questions to get them thinking more deeply about how standards have shaped history.
    • Challenge students to put the events in chronological order prior to reading. Provide the events on strips of paper to make this easier.
  • Activity: Graphic Organizer
    • Students identify why certain standards were developed.
  • Activity: NIST & You
    • Students can prepare a poster about a selected service or standard and explain how it relates to their life. Note: No student handout for this activity.