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Administration Procedures

6th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: The RAND Institute (RAND)


Students are instructed on how to create a pendulum and measure the periodicity of the pendulum, using four different combinations of string. Students are also asked which influences the time more - the length of the string or the weight at the end of the pendulum.

This task assesses students' abilities to observe and measure variables, and select and describe results.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Motions and forces

Performance Expectations:

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

National Science Education Standards:

8 B PS 2: Motions and forces: Grades 5-8
2.1 The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph.

8 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 5-8
1.3 Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. The use of tools and techniques, including mathematics, will be guided by the question asked and the investigations students design. The use of computers for the collection, summary, and display of evidence is part of this standard. Students should be able to access, gather, store, retrieve, and organize data, using hardware and software designed for these purposes.

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:

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades 6-8 h. formulate questions, design studies, and collect data about a characteristic shared by two populations or different characteristics within one population

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

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

RP2: Make and investigate mathematical conjectures:
Grades 6-8

CNX1: Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas:
Grades 6-8

General Instructions to the Teacher:

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 "Pendulum":

At each station students should have:

  • Platform and stick with hook at end
  • Long string
  • Short string
  • 1 metal washer with hook
  • 4 metal washers with hook
  • Ruler
  • Stop Watch
  • Pencil
  • Pendulum E on cardboard
  • Data Sheet (in student directions)


  • 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.





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