MATHEMATICS ACTIVITY
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Metric Units

Purpose

To use the Metric Units Tutor by Quantum Simulations™ as a tool to change metric measurements from one unit to another.

Materials

  • Metric Units Tutor
Blood sample

William C. Head

The Story

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the results of a new study on harmful chemicals found in the human body. According to the study, 2.2 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 5 have too much lead in their blood.

This is good news and bad news. Ten years ago 4.4 percent of U.S. children had too much lead in their blood. Things are improving, but when the amount of lead in the blood is greater than or equal to 10 micrograms per deciliter (10 µg/dL) that is a bad thing. And there are still 434,000 children in the United States who have 10 or more micrograms of lead in every deciliter of their blood. 

For additional information, visit the CDC.

You are a mathematician who works in the Office of Research and Evaluation of your local medical laboratory. As the lab's only mathematician, you have been asked to process some irregular data that has just arrived. You have the results of the lead-level tests from ten patients, but the results are not expressed in the customary units of micrograms per deciliter. They are expressed in a variety of different units.

 
PATIENT
RESULTS
A. B. Compton
0.009 mg/dL
D. E. Fenster
0.00093 cg/dL
G. H. Ibrahim
0.000023 g/dL
J. K. Lang
0.0079 mg/dL
M. N. O'Connor
0.00000187 g/dL
P. Q. Romero
0.0105 mg/0.1L
S. T. Udugba
0.0005 cg/dL
V. W. Xeron
27.3 µg/10cL
Z. A. Barse
0.0000095 g/0.1L
C. D. Elder
0.018 mg/100 mL
 

Your job is to convert the results into the standard units of micrograms per deciliter and then decide whether or not the patient has lead levels that are too high.

You will also select patients who need to be re-tested.

Procedure

Begin by opening the file containing the official Discrepant Unit Correction Form. (This is a Microsoft Word file.) Print a copy of the form to use as you complete the activity.
Examine the lead level for each patient on the form. Determine which unit is incorrect and convert it to the correct unit. Your goal is to end up with the units µg/dL. If both units are incorrect, convert both. 
Use the Metric Units Tutor to make sure that you are converting units correctly. If you are making mistakes, the Metric Units Tutor will help you get the right answer. The Metric Units Tutor will can be found at a web address that your teacher will provide to you.
Note: When you want to enter micrograms (µg) into the Metric Units Tutor you must abbreviate µg as mcg. 

Once that you are sure that your conversions are correct, enter them on the form, check the Alert column for those patients whose lead levels are too high, then select patients who should be retested.

Conclusion

Submit the "Discrepant Unit Correction Form" to the laboratory supervisor (your teacher).

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