administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Ocean Bottom Profile
Administration Procedures

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


Students will interpret a graph of ocean depths and topographic features.

This task assesses students' abilities to interpret figures, organize and represent data, apply knowledge of scale to a profile, and apply theoretical knowledge.

This task is designed to take students approximately 15-20 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
  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations

National Science Education Standards:

8 ASI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
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 DESS 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:

AL1: Understand patterns, relations and functions:
Grades 6-8 g. relate and compare different forms of representation for a relationship

AL3: Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships:
Grades 6-8 c. model and solve contextualized problems using various representations, such as graphs, tables, and equations

MEAS2: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements:
Grades 6-8 j. use common benchmarks to select appropriate methods for estimating measurements

DAP3: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data:
Grades 6-8 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 6-8

CNX3: Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas:
Grades 6-8

REP3: Use representations to model and interpret physical, social, and mathematical phenomena:
Grades 6-8


General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take approximately 15-20 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 "Ocean Bottom Profile":

The teacher will not need any materials.

At each station students should have:

  • Ocean Bottom Profile (fig. 1)
  • Calculator

Advance Preparation:



  • 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.


  • Data could be given and graph plotted as assignment. Actual scale model could be determined by using data generated by small groups to make one large map.



©1997-2005 SRI International. All rights reserved. Terms of Use