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Administration Procedures
Grades 5-8 Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)


Students study several unidentified substances and suggest a use of each substance.

This task is designed to take students approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Properties of matter

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 B PS 1: Properties and changes in properties of matter: Grades 5-8
1.1 A substance has characteristic properties, such as density, a boiling point, and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount of the sample. A mixture of substances often can be separated into the original substances using one or more of the characteristic properties.

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

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.

4 F SPSP 5: Science and technology in local challenges: Grades K-4
5.1 People continue inventing new ways of doing things, solving problems, and getting work done. New ideas and inventions often affect other people; sometimes the effects are good and sometimes they are bad. It is helpful to try to determine in advance how ideas and inventions will affect other people.

(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

PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts:
Grades 6-8

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 45-50 minutes to complete.

Students may work in groups of 4 (3-5) for the experiment/activity part of this exercise. Students work together for up to 20 minutes. They are instructed to notify you when finished with the group work, and then to go on to the individual work. If students are still working together 20 minutes after the testing begins, instruct them to cease their group work and begin individual work. At this point, they may no longer talk. Whether or not they are just beginning their individual work, remind students that they now have about 25 minutes to complete the individual activity.

Students should be ready to work as soon as the period begins. Group assignments should be made in advance. 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.

Safety goggles and lab aprons should be used.

Materials for "Powder":

At this station students should have:
  • Five powder samples (all white powders)
  • Water
  • Magnifying lens
  • Vinegar
  • Mixing tray
  • Cup
  • Spoon or small spatula
  • Pencils

Advance Preparation:

You should test the powdered samples to be used prior to the testing period. Be sure that they react the way you expect them to and that no dangerous reactions could occur due to student errors. Remind students not to taste any of the samples.


  • 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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