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Measurement Sensitivity

Below is a table listing all the measurement tools students learned today.

Measurement Sensitivity:  A measurement tool that can provide a measurement with more decimal places is said to be  more sensitive.  Example:  a graduated cylinder with graduations that increase in increments of one is more sensitive than a beaker with graduations that increase in increments of ten.  Also, a recorded measurement with more decimal places is considered more sensitive than a recorded measurement that has fewer decimal places.  Example:  a measurement of 2.37 mm is more sensitive than 2.3 mm.

Smallest Interval the Tool Measures (accurate to):  To measure with accuracy, there must be a measurement mark on the tool.  Example:  a centimeter ruler has marks every tenth of a centimeter.  This means that a scientist can accurate measure the length of an object that is exactly  two and one-tenth (2.1) cm long.

Measurement Must be Recorded to (estimated place value):  After a scientist determines an accurate measurement, he or she then must record the measurement by estimating one additional place value.  Example:  the two and one-tenth (2.1) cm object that was measured in the previous example would be recorded (in a graph, table, or lab report, etc) as two and ten-hundredths (2.10) cm.  The 0 in the hundredths place has been estimated.

 Measurement Reference Table

Tool Used to Measure Unit Smallest Interval
Tool Measures
(accurate to)
Measurement Must
be Recorded to
(estimated place value)
Ruler Length centimeter (cm) Tenths Hundredths
Ruler Length millimeter (mm) Ones Tenths
Triple Beam Balance Mass gram (g) Tenths


Graduated Cylinder Volume milliliter (mL) Ones Tenths
Beaker Volume milliliter (mL) 10, 25, or 50 Ones

Measurement Tools

Centimeter Ruler – Record Measurements to HUNDREDTHS   |   Example:  9.00 cm   |   Example:  2.15 cm


Millimeter Ruler – Record Measurements to TENTHS   |   Example: 9.0 mm   |   Example: 2.1 mm


Triple Beam Balance – Record Measurements to HUNDREDTHS   |   Example:  76.00 g   |   Example:  4.15 g
triple beam balance



Graduated Cylinder – Record Measurements to TENTHS   |   Example: 17.0 mL   |   Example: 31.5 mL
graduated cylindergraduated cylinder close up


Beaker – Record Measurements to ONES   |   Example: 50 mL   |   Example: 85 mL

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