Science Projects for Kids: Measuring

Estimate a hill's height using a level.
Estimate a hill's height using a level.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

How tall is that? How wide? Experiments on science projects for kids: measuring show that you don't have to be tall as a tree or have a really long tape measure to estimate considerable heights and distances. With estimating tricks, a surveying tool and some simple objects, kids can become measuring experts.

Follow the links below to find science projects on measuring that you can do with kids:

How Tall Is That Tree?

Use a yardstick to measure the height of a tree.

How High Is That Hill?

Make a simple surveying tool, and estimate the height of a hill.

Find Your Latitude

Measure your latitude by the North Star.

Measure and Estimate with Paper Clips

Use an uncommon tool to size common objects.

You can measure the height of a tree with just a yardstick and a friend. Learn how on the next page.

For more fun science projects you can do with kids, check out:

How Tall Is That Tree?

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.                              Find the height of a tree by estimating.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Find the height of a tree by estimating.
2007 Publications International, Ltd.

How tall is that tree? And how can you measure its height if it's really tall? This science project for kids on measuring offers a neat trick to help.

What You'll Need:

  • Tall tree to measure
  • Partner
  • Yardstick or tape measure

Step 1: Use a yardstick to measure a straight line 60 feet away from the tree you want to measure.

Step 2: Have your partner stand there and hold the yardstick straight up with the bottom touching the ground. (A yardstick will work for trees up to about 30 feet tall. For very tall trees, use a metal tape measure instead of a yardstick.)

Step 3: Walk six feet past your partner. (You'll be 66 feet away from the tree.)

Step 4: Lie down with your head very close to the ground at the 66-foot mark.

Step 5: Look up at the tree, and notice where its top comes to on the yardstick.

Step 6: Have your partner mark that spot. (You'll have to guide your partner to make the mark in the right place by saying, "A little lower… a little higher…" until he or she finds the right place.) The height of the tree is about 10 times the height marked on the yardstick. For example, if the mark on the yardstick is at 24 inches, the tree is about 240 inches (20 feet) tall.

Step 7: Calculate your tree's height by multiplying your yardstick measurement by 10.

Go to the next page to make a simple surveying tool and measure the height of a hill.

For more fun science projects you can do with kids, check out:

How High Is That Hill?

Use a level to estimate the height of a hill.
Use a level to estimate the height of a hill.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

How high is that hill? You can find the answer by using a simple surveying tool -- the level. Do this science project for kids, and you'll know how to measure the height of any slope.

What You'll Need:

  • Clear plastic jar
  • Waterproof marker
  • Partner
  • Tape measure
  • Paper, pen
  • Calculator

Step 1: Make a simple level by filling a jar about a third of the way with water.

Step 2: Put the jar on a flat table and, with a waterproof marker, make a ring around the jar at the water level.

Step 3: Have your partner use a tape measure to measure the height from the floor to your eyes. Write this measurement down, and call it your "eye-level distance."

Step 4: Stand at the bottom of the slope, and hold the jar so that the water level is even with the ring on the jar.

Step 5: Look through the jar across the surface of the water, and have your partner stand at the point on the hill that you can see across the water. Your partner is now standing one eye-level distance above you.

Step 6: Go up the hill, and stand by your partner.

Step 7: Look across the level water again, and have your partner move to the next point you can see on the hill. Your partner is now two eye-level distances up the hill.

Step 8: Continue doing this until your partner is on the top of the hill.

Step 9: Multiply the number of eye-level distances you measured out by the number of inches from the floor to your eyes. This will tell you how many inches high the hill is.

Step 10: Divide total by 12 to find out how many feet high the hill is.

Go to the next page to learn how you can find your latitude using the North Star.

For more fun science projects you can do with kids, check out:

Find Your Latitude

Use the North Star to find your latitude.
Use the North Star to find your latitude.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

You can use the North Star to find your latitude. Try this science project for kids, and you'll be using the same technique that the ancient Greeks did.

Long before our modern navigation systems were developed, people in ancient times navigated by the stars. The ancient Greeks knew the world was round and invented a system we still use to map and measure the globe. They divided the globe into latitude lines based upon the apparent altitude of the north star above the horizon. To find your own latitude, you'll need to outdoors on a clear night and look for the North Star.

What You'll Need:

  • Protractor
  • String
  • Key

Step 1: Find the North Star on a clear night.

Step 2: Tie a key or other weight to one end of a piece of string and the other end to the cross bar of a protractor.

Step 3: Turn the protractor so that the curved edge faces downward. Tilt it so that the string hangs exactly at "zero."

Step 4: Slowly tilt the protractor, and look along the straight edge until you can see the North Star. Notice which degree mark the string now crosses. This indicates how many degrees above the horizon the North Star is. This figure is also your degree of latitude.

Star's Altitude Above the Horizon

You can measure the altitude above the horizon of any star using the same technique, but latitude lines are based only on the angle of the North Star. Try using your fingers instead.

If you hold your hand out at arm's length, each of your fingers is approximately four degrees wide. Your hand minus the thumb (four finger widths) is usually 15 to 16 degrees. All hands and arms are not alike, however, so use the protractor to check any measurement you make this way.

Who needs a ruler when you have a box of paper clips? Look on the next page to try this system of measurement.

For more fun science projects you can do with kids, check out:

Measure and Estimate with Paper Clips

You may not realize it, but you can measure and estimate with paper clips. Try this science project for kids, and you'll see how common objects can be measured with an uncommon measuring tool -- a box of paper clips!

What You'll Need:

  • Paper clips
  • Pencil
  • Paper

Step 1: Look around your room, and make a list of several objects that are long, short, wide, and narrow.

Step 2: Guess how many paper clips long each object might be. For example, how many paper clips long is a pencil? A shoe? What about your desk? Or your bedroom wall?

Step 3: Write down the name of each object and your estimation.

Step 4: Then measure! Line paper clips up end to end next to the object, or connect the paper clips to make a measuring chain.

Step 5: Write the number measured next to your estimate.

Step 6: After you have measured all the objects on your list, compare your findings to your estimates. Did you estimate high? Low?

Step 7: Use your discoveries to make new estimates for different objects, and test again.

For more fun science projects you can do with kids, check out:

ABOUT THE DESIGNERS

How High Is That Hill by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner HallsFind Your Latitude by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner Halls