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Formation of Wind
Administration Procedures

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


Students will correctly sequence the steps leading to the formation of wind, and describe the cause and effect relationships involved in the formation of wind.

This task assesses students' abilities to classify, generalize, infer, interpret data, and understand cause and effect relationships.

This task is designed to take students approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Earth and Space Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Structure of the earth system

Performance Expectations:

  • organizing, and representing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data
  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations

National Science Education Standards:

8 D ESS 1: Structure of the earth system: Grades 5-8
1.10 Global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather. Oceans have a major effect on climate, because water in the oceans holds a large amount of heat.

8 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 5-8
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.

(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:

PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts:
Grades 6-8

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take approximately 10 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 "Formation of Wind":

The teacher will need:

  • index cards
  • markers

At each station students should have:

  • 6 "wind cards"
  • 1 blank card

Advance Preparation:

  • Type six (6) each of the following statements with its corresponding letter on separate index cards:
    A - Air which is less dense, and causes lower pressure than the surrounding air, will rise.
    B - The sun's rays warm the Earth.
    C - Cold air is warmed and becomes less dense.
    D - Cool air, which is more dense, sinks and causes an increase in air pressure.
    E - The earth radiates heat and warms the surrounding air.
    F - As air rises it expands and cools.
    G - Blank
  • Cards need to be made, laminated or covered, if desired and bundled in groups.


  • 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.


  • Students could work in groups.
  • Pictures could be drawn to represent cards.


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