Lower Case
Tim Griffin

If you could be a watt, all the power that you got

Could be written as a number on your head (like a light bulb)

We used to say joules per second but eventually we reckoned

It was easier to just say watts instead

We named it after James, you know Watt was his last name

The industrial age’s greatest engineer

Steam engines made more sense with a separate condenser

And Watt was a power pioneer.


If you could be a kelvin then you wouldn’t be a lord,

You’d be a temperature in absolute degrees

We named it for a hero who said absolute zero

Is a temperature where even atoms freeze

Two seven three below is where the zero ought to go

When you want a proper thermometric scale

Lord Kelvin was the man who defined thermodynamics

And for temperature, the kelvin tells the tale.


If you could be a curie, then I’d really start to worry

‘Cause too many curies could be pretty bad

We named it for Marie who studied radioactivity

All the scientists agree she was rad

Radiation is reckoned in activity per second

Madame Curie was the finest in the field

And her work was so nice she won the Nobel twice

Found new elements twice

Founded medical institutes in Paris and Warsaw

And invented a mobile X-ray machine…

And some curies can cure you but too many more could kill you

So you’d better count your curies carefully!


There are scientific crowns for the names of great renown

Written down in every university

Like Newton and Ohm, Tesla and Coulomb

There’s a special way they want their names to be written down

For Faraday and Joule, winning accolades was cool

But they’ll never need a trophy in a case

Because a Nobel’s nifty but the very greatest gift

Is when we write

Their names

In lower case.


You already know about the everyday units we use for measuring distance, time, weight, and volume. However, there are some units that only come up in a specific context for science or engineering. This song introduces a few of these. It is not intended to target any specific science or engineering standard, though the units described in the song may come up in various STEM lessons for middle school and beyond. Rather, the goal here is to reinforce the concept that science depends on mathematical thinking and modeling.

Here are some some relevant Math Practices for all grade levels from the Common Core:

MP2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

MP4. Model with mathematics.

MP5. Use appropriate tools strategically.