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Administration Procedures
Grades 5-8 Performance Task
Contributed by: Oregon State Department of Education


Students will investigate how different variables affect seed growth. Variables include type of seed, medium (paper towels, various types of soil), amount of water, amount of light, temperature.

The task assesses students' understanding of scientific inquiry including the following skills: observation, data collection, measurement, graphing, scientific questions.

This task is designed to take students approximately 3 class periods (45 minutes each).

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:


Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • using equipment
  • gathering, organizing, and representing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data

National Science Education Standards:

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

1.2 Design and conduct a scientific investigation. Students should develop general abilities, such as systematic observation, making accurate measurements, and identifying and controlling variables. They should also develop the ability to clarify their ideas that are influencing and guiding the inquiry, and to understand how those ideas compare with current scientific knowledge. Students can learn to formulate questions, design investigations, execute investigations, interpret data, use evidence to generate explanations, propose alternative explanations, and critique explanations and procedures.

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.

1.7 Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. With practice, students should become competent at communicating experimental methods, following instructions, describing observations, summarizing the results of other groups, and telling other students about investigations and explanations.

4 B PS 3: Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism: Grades K-4

3.4 Magnets attract and repel each other and certain kinds of other materials.

(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:

AL1: Understand patterns, relations and functions:
Grades 6-8 f. represent, analyze, and generalize a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic rules

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades 6-8 i. select, create, and use appropriate graphical representations of data including histograms, box plots, and scatter plots

DAP3: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data :
Grades 6-8 e. use conjectures to formulate new questions and plan new studies to answer them

REP1: Create and use representations to organize, record, ad communicate mathematical ideas:
Grades 6-8

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 3 class periods (45 minutes each).

Students will be working individually during this exercise.

Students should be ready to work as soon as periods begin. A central supply area, if needed, should be easily accessible. All supplies should be clearly labeled.

Materials for "Magnets":

The teacher will need:

  • pins
  • nails
  • bottle caps
  • paper
  • paper clips
  • coins
  • other items of various material
  • card board
  • tacks
  • buttons
  • various size and shaped magnets
  • tag board
  • Scales

Advance Preparation:

  • After informally testing various materials to see which are attracted by magnets (stay away from computers and watches), demonstrate for students that a magnet will attract a paper clip through a piece of paper.



  • 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.


  • N/A



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