Go Pro!

Unit Conversion Daisy Chains

Reference > Science > Unit Conversions

In the previous reading, we talked about how to do simple unit conversions - things like converting meters to kilometers, feet to inches, and days to weeks. Sometimes, though, you may face situations where you don't know the conversion factor. For example, suppose someone asked you to convert 2 days to seconds. Do you know, off the top of your head, the conversion factor from days to seconds? 

I don't.

So what do we do? We do the conversion in stages, like this:

(2 days) x (24 hours)/(1 day) = 48 hours
(48 hours) x (60 minutes)/(1 hour) = 2,880 minutes
(2,880 minutes) x (60 seconds)/(1 minute) = 172,800 seconds

You see what I did, right? I first converted days to hours, then converted hours to minutes, then converted minutes to seconds. Of course, I could have done the whole thing in one line:

(2 days) x (24 hours)/(1 day) x (60 minutes)/(1 hour) x (60 seconds)/(1 minute)

As you multiply all those fractions across, you'll notice that the numerator of one fraction will cancel with the denominator of the next, so when you're all done, you'll just have a unit of seconds, which is what you're supposed to have.

Example Two - Convert 12 yards to inches by daisy chaining conversion factors.

Answer - Our conversion factors are (3 feet)/(1 yard) and (12 inches)/(1 foot).

(12 yards) x (3 feet)/(1 yard) x (12 inches)/1 foot) = 432 inches.


What two conversion factors would you use to convert seconds to hours?
What two conversion factors would you use to convert miles to inches?
What two conversion factors would you use to convert hours into weeks?
What three conversion factors would you use to convert minutes to weeks?
Convert 50 days to minutes.
Convert 100 days to decades.
Convert 10,000 inches to miles.
Convert 4 weeks to seconds.
Convert 1000 seconds to weeks.
Convert 10 kilometers to centimeters.
Assign this reference page
Click here to assign this reference page to your students.
Basic Unit ConversionsBasic Unit Conversions
Converting Fractional UnitsConverting Fractional Units

Understanding Coronavirus Spread

A Question and Answer session with Professor Puzzler about the math behind infection spread.

Blogs on This Site

Reviews and book lists - books we love!
The site administrator fields questions from visitors.
Like us on Facebook to get updates about new resources
Pro Membership