Classifying Materials
Rubric
Contributed by: Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

ME 401: Matter and Its Transformation
Item #1

Item Description:   (This portion may be completed in a group.) Chemical elements are substances that cannot be made into simpler substances by chemical means. Each element has properties that distinguish it from other elements. Each element also has properties that can be used to place it in a group with other elements

You are studying the elements in school. Your teacher gives you samples of several elements and instructs you and your partners to determine some properties of these elements. You will study each element's magnetic property (how the element responds to the field of a magnet) and density (the amount of mass in a given volume of the element).

Individuals should answer the following: Based upon the experiments [you complete], group the elements according to their relative magnetic properties and their densities. Explain the basis for your classification system.

Content Definition:  Magnetism is determined in the following manner. Per the instructions given.

Touch the material with the magnet. If the material is pulled toward the magnet, write "yes" in the appropriate space in Table 1. If the material is not pulled toward the magnet, write "no" in the appropriate space in Table 1.

Density is determined in the following manner, per the instruction given.

  • Use the balance to find the weight of your sample. Record the weight in Table 2, Column A;

  • Add approximately 5.0 cm3 of water to the graduated cylinder, and read the volume of water that you added to the nearest 0.1 cm3. Record the volume in Table 2, Column C. (Note: 1 ml is exactly 1 cm3; density is customarily reported in g/cm3.);

  • Complete submerge the metal in the water, being careful not to spill any water;

  • Read the new volume of the water to the nearest 0.1 cm3, and record your result in Table 2, Column B;

  • Subtract the original volume of water from the new volume of water. The difference is the volume of the sample in cm3. Record the difference in Table 2, Column D;

  • Determine the density of your sample by dividing its mass by its volume. Record the result in Table 2, Column E.


Scoring Parameters:
  • Students will group the elements according to magnetic properties.

  • Students will group the elements according to densities.

  • Students will provide an explanation of the classification system.


Score Level Descriptions:
NS Item is blank or response is irrelevant.
1 The student uses her/his data to group elements by magnetism or density. Logic cannot be followed in explanation of grouping devised OR no explanation is given.
2 The student uses her/his data to group elements by magnetism and density. Grouping and explanation exist, however the logic or data supporting may be faulty. Magnetism and density need not be related.
3 The student demonstrates an adequate understanding of magnetism and density, however shows only some ability to relate the two to form an organizational system. Grouping and explanation exist, but are weak and/or incomplete. Experimental densities are derived correctly.
4 The student demonstrates a full understanding of magnetism, density, and the ability to relate the two to form an organizational system. Student explanation and grouping is easily understood and complete, citing specific examples from their experiment or previous experience. Experimental densities must be derived correctly.

Note: Some "nickel" samples
are weakly magnetic, so response
will vary.


ME 401: Matter and Its Transformations
Item #2

 

Item Description:   On an exploration of the Appalachian Mountains, suppose you find a solid material. When you break the material apart, you see that the inside of the material is silvery and shiny. Your teacher tells you that the shiny material consists of a single element. Using your knowledge of the Periodic Table and of investigative techniques, describe a procedure that you would use to classify and identify the shiny material.

Content Definition:   The substance is a solid. It consists of one element, which is silvery and shiny. Possible tests could include magnetism, water solubility, conductivity, flame color change test, density, melting and boiling points, malleability, ductility, and ability to reflect heat.

Scoring Parameters:  

  • Student describes some procedure to identify the element.

  • Student explains how the results of specific tests will enable the identification of the element.

  • Student proposes some kind of step involving comparison to other elements in the Periodic Table.

Note: Procedures does not equal tests. Procedure is
more general; test more specific.

Score Level Descriptions:

NS Item is blank or response is irrelevant.
1 The student shows a minimal understanding of possible procedures identify the element. No tests are proposed. The student is unable to clearly relate the identification of the element to other elements in the Periodic Table.
2 The student shows some understanding of possible procedures to identify the element. A test is proposed, however response does not clearly relate the results of the test to the identification of the element, or to other elements in the Periodic Table.
3 The student shows adequate understanding of possible procedures to identify the element. At least one procedure is described in detail sufficient that the reader can visualize and follow the procedure. The results of the test are described/interpreted in such a way that the reader can understand their utility in classifying or identifying a material.
4 The student shows a full understanding of possible procedures to identify the element. More than one procedure is described in enough detail (steps, equipment) that the reader can easily visualize and follow. The method of interpreting results is explained for comparison of collected data to information in the Periodic Table or to information about other elements.