Grade 58 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Education Department
(NYSED)
NYS Alternative Assessment in Science Project (1996)
Credit/Source: Earth  The Water Plant  NSTA (1989)
Description:
Students will place a peat pot in water to observe and calculate
the rate of capillarity in a model of a soil.
This task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations,
collect, record, and represent data, use a data table to represent
data, apply mathematics to solve for an unknown, use a graph to
represent data, and draw conclusions from experiments.
This task is designed to take students approximately 20 minutes
to complete.
Overall Task Content Area:
 Earth Science
Specific Knowledge Areas:
 Structure of the Earth System
Performance Expectations:
 conducting investigations
 using equipment
 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 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.
1.5 Think critically and logically to make the relationships
between evidence and explanations. Thinking critically about evidence
includes deciding what evidence should be used and accounting for
anomalous data. Specifically, students should be able to review
data from a simple experiment, summarize the data, and form a logical
argument about the causeandeffect relationships in the experiment.
Students should begin to state some explanations in terms of the
relationship between two or more variables.
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
1.5 Soil consists of weathered rocks and decomposed organic
material from dead plants, animals, and bacteria. Soils are often
found in layers, with each having a different chemical composition
and texture.
(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:
MEAS2: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas
to determine measurements:
Grades 68 k. select and apply techniques and tools to
accurately find length, area, volume, and angle measures to appropriate
levels of precision
NO1:Understand numbers, ways of representing
numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems:
Grades 68 q. understand and use ratios
and proportions to represent quantitative relationships
AL2: Represent and analyze mathematical situations
and structures using algebraic symbols:
Grades 68 f. develop an initial conceptual understanding
of different uses of variables
AL4: Analyze change in various contexts:
Grades 68 e. use graphs to analyze the nature of changes
in quantities in linear relationships
AL3: Understand mathematical models to represent and
understand quantitative relationships:
Grades 68 c. model and solve contextualized problems using
various representations, such as graphs, tables, and equations
DAP2: Select and use appropriate
statistical methods to analyze data:
Grades 68 e. Find, use, and interpret measures
of center and spread, including mean and interquartile range
PS1:Build new mathematical knowledge through
problem solving:
Grades 68
COM1: Organize and consolidate their mathematical
thinking through communications:
Grades 68
REP1: Select, apply, and translate among
mathematical representations to solve problems:
Grades 68
General Instructions to the Teacher:
This task is designed to take approximately 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 "Peat Pot":
The teacher will need:
 1 large waste basket
 extra supply of dry peat pots
At each stations students should have:
 small peat pot (23 inch diameter)
 small dish with diameter larger than pot
 funnel
 metric ruler
 graduated cylinder
 stopwatch or watch with second hand
 water
 paper towels
Advance Preparation:
 Peat pots' size and capillarity will vary.
 Recommend  that the teacher determine capillarity rate prior
to test.
 Small disposable pie plates can be used for water dishes.
 If peat pots are unavailable, clay pots may be used (time will
vary).
 Peat pots may be dried and reused.
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.
Extensions/Modifications:
1. Use of different materials, i.e. paper column (to compare
materials and their capillarity) i.e. sand column.
2. Vary the length of time of activity.
