Alumna Brings Measurement Lesson to Life with Colorful Ruler

Gretchen McCormick developed a ruler that denotes different measurements with color-coded markings

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gretchen McCormick was trying to teach measurement to fifth graders during her student teaching experience at the School of Education, but her students could not grasp the lesson. Frustrated, McCormick used a Sharpie to change a normal ruler into something with different markings. Suddenly, the lesson clicked for the students – and for McCormick. She developed a ruler called Measure by Color, a ruler that denotes different measurements with color-coded markings. It makes what can be a difficult lesson more visual, taking away the confusion for students and adults alike.

“All I did was even the playing field,” McCormick, who graduated from the IU School of Education in 2003, noted. “We all think differently, we all learn differently, it’s perception. Even as adults we have that problem. I felt that was what was going on with measurement.”

Besides the colored markings, Measure By Color is unique in that it’s a ruler that actually goes end to end. And even though it helped her teach fifth graders, McCormick said it’s useful from preschool to high school – and beyond.

Measure By Color

“I have yet to find an educator who has not loved it,” she said. They love it for all different reasons. Everybody thinks it’s just hands down wonderful.”

And for people who can’t see color, Measure By Color’s markings also vary in size so everyone can understand what the measurements are. McCormick has heard examples of art teachers whose students use it as they measure grids.

When she’s not in her fulltime job working in sales for a local newspaper, McCormick is promoting Measure By Color to educators, parents and anyone who works with kids. She won the gold medal in the category of education at INPEX, a show geared toward inventors. McCormick hopes to make the rulers more cost-effective so even more students can benefit from them.

“I haven’t really found an age group or an area where it’s not needed,” she said.

Find more information on Measure By Color at