Metric System Day is an annual celebration of a nearly-universal system of measurement. This system uses standardized units like meters, kilograms, and liters. In most of the world, the metric system is the global standard; it’s perfect for simplifying and unifying measurements across the world.
However, a few countries still hold out and use alternate measuring systems. The largest countries that don’t use it are the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar, although efforts and partial adoptions in these countries.
History of Metric System Day
The beginnings of the metric system go back to 1586 when a Flemish scientist and mathematician called Simon Stevin published his pamphlet entitled ‘De Thiende’ (‘The Tenth’).
In the publication, Stevin emphasized the importance of decimal-based measurement. He probably didn’t realize it then, but he had laid the first bricks in the foundation of the metric system. However, it wasn’t until over two centuries later that Stevin’s vision began to materialize.
In 1799, after the terror of the French Revolution and with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French government officially adopted the metric system. Napoleon recognized the benefits of a standardized measurement system across his always-expanding empire.
As a result, he introduced it to the territories he conquered. Despite initial resistance – and even a short period of abandonment after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo – the metric system gradually regained its traction across Europe.
By the mid-19th century, countries like the Netherlands, Italy, and the German Empire had adopted the metric system. Between 1875 and 1914, the period saw these measurements were put into place by several other nations, including Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.
Interestingly, the United States allowed the use of the metric system for commercial purposes as early as 1866, demonstrating its growing international influence. Still, Americans have not accepted its widespread use, still preferring the Imperial measurement system.
The evolution of the metric system continued into the 20th century with the establishment of the International System of Units (SI) in 1960 by the International Institute of Metrology.
This updated version of the metric system further standardized measurements and included units such as the Kelvin for temperature.
How to Celebrate Metric System Day
Celebrating Metric System Day can be both educational and fun. Here are some ways to honor this day:
Educate Yourself and Others About the Metric System
Spend some time on Metric System Day learning more about the metric system. Understand its base units like meters for length, liters for volume, and kilograms for mass. Explore the history of the system and how it revolutionized measurements.
Advocate for the Adoption of the Metric System
In countries like the United States, where the metric system is not widely used, use this day to advocate for its adoption. Discuss its benefits in terms of standardization and global unity in measurements.
One fun fact – both our bordering neighbors and top trade partners, Mexico and Canada, use this system. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to communicate with our neighbors?
Engage in Metric System Activities
Organize activities that challenge your metric system skills. These could be as simple as cooking a recipe using metric measurements instead of cups or ounces. Any 5k runners out there? You already measure your running distances during a run in kilometers.
You’re halfway there! How about checking in with your Canadian friends to discuss the weather? It would be so much easier if you didn’t have to pull out your scientific calculator to understand their current temperature.
Social Media Engagement
Use the hashtag #MetricSystemDay to share facts, history, or personal views about the metric system. Online forums or discussions can spread awareness and appreciation for this measurement system.
Host a Themed Event
Consider a metric system-themed celebration or gathering if you love throwing a theme party. You could have quizzes about metric units.
If that sounds dull, play games that estimate or measure items in metric units. You might even host a debate about the importance of global measurement standards.
Metric System Day gives us a pathway to increased global understanding and cooperation. By embracing the metric system, we can all acknowledge the importance of having a common language in science, commerce, and, indeed, everyday life.
So feel free to take a moment on Metric System Day to appreciate the simplicity and universality of the metric system. Indeed, it is a system that, in many ways, could bring the world closer together.