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Olympic Measures

Age 11 to 14
Challenge Level

Why do this problem?

This problem invites students to engage with units of measurement and orders of magnitude, by presenting a variety of records and measurements from events at the Olympic Games. Some will be familiar to students, others may lend themselves to estimation or a little research.

Possible approach

These printable resources may be useful: Olympic Measures,
                                                            Olympic Measures Support.

"Here are some interesting measurements and records from events at the Olympic Games. Unfortunately they have been muddled up. Can you regroup them correctly?"

Hand out this set of cards and invite students to work in pairs together. The first page of cards is self-contained, so if you wish to make the task easier, you can just use the cards from the first page.

If students are stuck, here are some key questions to help them:

Which quantities are likely to be whole numbers? Why?

Which quantities are lengths? Which are times? Which are speeds? Which are masses?

Which units might belong with the lengths... times... speeds... masses...?

Can you rank the different lengths... times... speeds... masses in order of magnitude?

Finish by bringing the whole class together to agree on a class ordering for the cards. Students will need to convince each other of their own ordering by explaining what they are certain of, and justifying their educated guesses.

The final ordering could be checked with the interactivity, which will give feedback when all the cells are occupied.

The videos of impressive world record performances available on this site might be of interest to students. (Link is to an external site, so NRICH is not responsible for the contents.)

One teacher created a PowerPoint to use with an earlier version of this task (some of the world records have since changed); you can download it from the TES Resources website.


Possible support

This set of cards only requires students to sort the measurements, as the units are included with each event.


Possible extension

Invite students to do some research to create a set of similar cards of their own to swap with a friend.

Students could also have a go at All in a Jumble where the measurements have again been all jumbled up.