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Grade 5-8 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Education Department (NYSED)
NYS Alternative Assessment in Science Project (1996)


Students will observe, measure, and graph a model of slow downslope movement representing soil creep.

This task assesses students' abilities to collect, record, and organize data, set up graph axes, plot data points, draw line graphs, apply mathematics, infer based on observational data, predict based on a model, and apply models to other situations.

This task is designed to take students approximately 30-40 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Earth Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Structure of the Earth System

Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • gathering, organizing, and representing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data
  • applying scientific principles to solve new problems

National Science Education Standards:

8 ASI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
1.4 Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. Students should base their explanation on what they observed, and as they develop cognitive skills, they should be able to differentiate explanation from description providing causes for effects and establishing relationships based on evidence and logical argument. This standards requires a subject knowledge base so the students can effectively conduct investigations, because developing explanations establishes connections between the content of science and the contexts within which students develop new knowledge.

1.8 Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Mathematics is essential to asking and answering questions about the natural world. Mathematics can be used to ask questions; to gather, organize, and present data; and to structure convincing explanations.

8 D ESS 1: Structure of the earth system
1.3 Land forms are the result of a combination of constructive and destructive forces. Constructive forces include crustal deformation, volcanic eruption, and deposition of sediment, while destructive forces include weathering and erosion.

(Use the "hot" link on the PALS home page to check the full text of related National Science Education Standards, if desired.)

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

Algebra (AL1): Understand patterns, relations and functions.

Number and Operations (NO1): Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

Algebra (AL2): Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols.

Data Analysis and Probability (DAP2): Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data.

Measurement (MEAS1): Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.

Measurement (MEAS2): Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.

Algebra (AL3): Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships.

Algebra (AL4): Analyze change in various contexts.

Data Analysis and Probability (DAP3): Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data.

Problem Solving (PS1): Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving.

Reasoning and Proof (RP2): Make and investigate mathematical conjectures.

Representation (REP1): Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas.

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete.

Students will be working individually during this exercise.

Students should be ready to work as soon as the period begins. The materials should be set out at each lab station, if possible. A central supply area, if needed, should be easily accessible. All supplies should be clearly labeled.

Materials for "Creeping":

The teacher will need:

  • Borax
  • water
  • food coloring
  • white glue
  • bucket
  • stiff stirring stick
  • Ziplock for storage
  • laminated photocopy of E.S.R. Table ruler

At each station students should have:

  • 125ml "glop"
  • beaker for "glop"
  • clipboard or student tray
  • timer
  • blocks
  • tape
  • calculator (optional)

Advance Preparation:


Recipe for "Glop"

  • Dissolve 75 ml cup Borax in one liter of water and set aside (1:16 ratio).
  • Mix equal parts of white glue and water.
  • Add several drops food coloring to the glue mixture.
  • Measure 50 ml of borax solution and place in a Ziplock plastic bag.
  • Measure 150 ml of the glue mixture and place in a Ziplock plastic bag.
  • Just before using, combine the glue mixture and the Borax mixture, in a 3:1 ratio, seal the bag again and knead to form "glop".
    • Mix until the glop has the consistency of silly putty.
    • A more concentrated solution of borax will give you a stiffer mixture.
    • Store the glop in the Ziplock bags.
    • Refrigerate in sealed plastic bags for long-term storage.
  • ***Do not use the fluorescent Elmer's Glue. It is not always successful.
  • "Glop" may be mixed and stored in any sealable container.
  • Make a transparency of the metric ruler on the front cover of the Earth Science Reference Tables. Make sure the metric ruler is in the center of the transparency sheet.
  • Tape the transparency to the back of the clipboard OR
  • If using Metric adhesive tape, stick the tape directly onto the back of the clipboard and place a piece of masking tape perpendicular to the metric tape at the place where the lip of the beaker will rest. Record the mark as the starting point.
  • The clipboard rests on a pile of wood blocks. The clip end should be resting on the blocks.
  • Use masking tape to keep the beaker steady on the clipboard by taping across the beaker onto the clipboard.


  • The glop mixture contains Borax which is poisonous if ingested. If this material is accidentally eaten, call the poison control center immediately.
  • Borax is also an eye irritant. Eyes that may have been contaminated with glop should be flushed with water immediately.
  • Students should be cautioned before task and instructed to wash their hands after completing the task.
  • Be careful.
  • Teachers and students should always exercise appropriate safety precautions and utilize appropriate laboratory safety procedures and equipment when working on science performance tasks.


  • Variations in slope; experiment to change the viscosity i.e. temperature change.
  • Place toothpicks in "glop" to show change in rate of flow; i.e. glacial movement.
  • Teacher Demonstration version - glop and transparent plastic clipboard on an overhead.


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