Scientific Measurement Exercise

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Learners measure irregularly shaped bones using a variety of measurement methods and tools. Then, they measure again using standard conventions and metric tape measures. Learners understand the importance of standardizing measurements to make observations more precise and repeatable. Additionally, they learn that the forms of bones are related to their functions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • cervical (neck) vertebra of a large mammal
  • padding on which to set the bones
  • various tools for measuring length
  • metric tape measure
  • Student Worksheet


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth's History
      • Fossils
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Skeleton
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Wedel, Matt


  • All rights reserved, Berkeley Natural History Museums and the Regents of the University of California, 2011