WAJ31 05 Numerical Literacy

Length is the distance between any two points measured along a straight line' Two lengths can be compared directly by putting them side by side, with one end of each length aligned. Lengths can also be compared indirectly by comparing each length with a third length. ln fact, measuring a length is actually comparing that
length with a measuring instrument such as a ruler'

A non-standard unit for length is any arbitrary length used as a unit. Some common examples are: (a) body parts such as span, foot step and arm length; and (b) objects such as pen, paper clip, rod, chalk and broomstick. The eadiest recorded units of length were based on body parts, for example:

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The cubit - the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger

The span - the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger on an extended

The reach - on outstretched arms, the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the

The hand - the width of a hand (fingers closed) from the edge of the palm to the edge of the thumb (still used to measure the height of horses)


The foot

- the Romans divided this measure into 12 inches, but it was

originally based on the length of a foot.

A standard unit for length is any fixed length that has been accepted as a standard

internationally. Examples are: (a) yard, (b) metre, (c) miles, (d) inch and (d) kilometre. Units such as yard, miles, and inch are known as lmperial units,
whereas metre and kilometre are known as metric units. However, in the Malaysian school curriculum, only metric units are taught. Other examples of metric units for
length include millimetre, centimetre and decimetre.


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