The metric system gradually is making its way into the everyday lives of most Americans, sometimes without them being aware of it. Among items that now are measured metrically are wine and spirits, gasoline and pharmaceuticals. People refer to the 35 mm camera and the 100-meter dash without giving it a second thought.

Still the mere mention of liters and kilometers usually brings confused looks and blank stares. As part of the continuing metrication of America, this week has been designated National Metric Week. More than 30 states including Maryland, Virginia and the District, are participating in programs designed to familiarize the public with metric terms and the metric system.

The program is co-sponsored by the National Metric Board and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Groups all over the country will be conducting seminars on how to make the metric system more understandable.

The move to introduce the metric system in this country dates to 1866 when Congress authorized the use of the metric system and gave each state a set of standard metric weights and measures. The United States was one of 17 nations that signed an agreement in 1875 creating the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France to standardize metric measures.

For more information on Metric Week activities, call 620-9840 or 235-2820.