Contributed by: Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
Description:
Students study a table containing population data covering a 28 year
period for snowshoe hare and lynx in a certain area of Canada. The
students are asked to create a graph of the data to facilitate accurate
analysis, then to use the research data to write a brief response
to a proposal to reduce the lynx population.
This task is designed to take students approximately 4050 minutes
to completely.
Overall Task Content Area:
 Life Science
Specific Knowledge Areas:
 Populations and ecosystems
Performance Expectations:
 conducting investigations
 gathering, organizing, and representing data
 formulating conclusions from investigational data
 applying scientific principles to develop explanations and solve
new problems
National Science Education Standards:
8 C LS 4: Populations and ecosystems: Grades
58
4.4 The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends
on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity
of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition.
Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators,
populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates. Lack of
resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit
the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem.
8 A SI 1: Abilities of scientific inquiry: Grades
58
1.3 Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and
extend the senses. In early years, students develop simple skills,
such as how to observe, measure, cut, connect, switch, turn on and
off, pour, hold, tie, and hook. Beginning with simple instruments,
students can use rulers to measure the length, height, and depth
of objects and materials; thermometers to measure temperature; watches
to measure time; beam balances and spring scales to measure weight
and force; magnifiers to observe objects and organisms; and microscopes
to observe the finer details of plants, animals, rocks, and other
materials. Children also develop skills in the use of computers
and calculators for conducting investigations.
(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:
AL4: Analyze change in various contexts:
Grades 68 e. use graphs to analyze the nature of changes
in quantities in linear relationships
AL1: Understand patterns, relations and functions:
Grades 68 f. represent, analyze, and generalize a variety
of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic
rules
DAP3: Develop and evaluate
inferences and predictions that are based on data:
Grades 68 c. use observations about differences
between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations
from which the samples were taken
PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics
and in other contexts:
Grades 68
RP3: Develop and evaluate mathematical
arguments and proofs:
Grades 68
COM4: Use the language of mathematics
to express mathematical ideas precisely:
Grades 68
REP3: Use representations to model and interpret
physical, social, and mathematical ideas:
Grades 68
General Teacher Instructions:
You may choose to have students work alone or in small groups to complete
the first part of the exercise. This would include the initial data
analysis and the creation of a line graph for both data sets. In any
case, students should work alone to complete questions #1 and #2 where
constructed responses are required. If students work initially in
groups, allow no more than 20 minutes for them to complete the graph.
At that point, students should be told that they are to work alone
to complete the remaining parts of the test and that there is to be
no more talking. Whether or not they are just beginning their individual
work, remind students that they now have 25 minutes to complete the
individual activity.
Students should be ready to work as soon as the period begins.
Group assignments, if used, should be made in advance.
Materials in Kits:
No materials other than the student test papers are needed for this
exercise.
Advance Preparation:
Group assignments, if used, should be made in advance.
Safety:
 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.
