# January 31, 2007

## Lab Rat.

I have to wonder if I attended an elementary school where they considered students lab rats. Did the educational system say to themselves, “Let’s try something new with this class, and this class only, and see how they succeed in life!”. This statement would undoubtedly be accompanied by a sinister laugh. “Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha”.

I’m talking about elementary math skills. Now I have a very accurate, vivid memory. It’s something that I pride myself on. And the New York State elementary educational system teaches students how to measure liquids, distances and densities in fifth and sixth grades, for the most part.

Here’s the kicker. I attended these grades from 1978-1980. And what was the United States going to do at that time? We were going to convert to the metric system. It was two kilometers to the next Service Area, we bought two liters of pop and our aspirin was being handed out in milligrams instead of tons. Therefore, my teachers apparently figured that they didn’t want to waste the time of teaching my classes the old system, since they were all about the future and the promise of flying cars and therefore, we’d all be taught the metric system.

I can convert from fahrenheit to celcius like it’s nobody’s business. I know what a decigram and a hectometer is. As a civil engineer with NYSDOT someday (cross your fingers everyone), I will be working on construction plans that are completely in metric. But, today I must take a test that proves my fluency in the English measurements. I must know how many hectares of milk are in a pound.

I’m seriously thinking of writing a temporary tattoo comprised of the conversion factors on my forearm, but I’d probably get in trouble for that. I don’t know how sexy that would be either.

I blame Miss O’Rourke and Mr. Krakowka (elementary school teachers). If they had the sense to tell us what a fluid ounce was in gallons, I’d feel more like a complete person and less like a lab rat.