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Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Administration Procedures
Grades 5-8 Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)


In this activity students will experiment to isolate factors that affect the stopping distance of a vehicle. They will then apply what they have discovered to specific situations.

Students will test the force necessary to start each of two blocks in motion on an asphalt strip. They will repeat their tests with weight on the blocks, and with three different asphalt strips: one dry, one wet, and one oily. Individually, they will graph the group's data, and apply the data to several different applications.

This task is designed to take students approximately 45 minutes to complete. Up to 20 minutes may be spent working together in small groups (3-5 students), and at least 25 minutes to complete the individual work.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Motion and Forces

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 2:   Motion and Forces: Grades 5-8
2.1   Position, direction, speed

2.2   Constant speed and pathway

2.3   Effects of balanced and unbalanced forces

8 A SI 1:   Science as inquiry: Grades 5-8
1.2   Design and conduct a scientific experiment

1.3   Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather data

1.4   Develop descriptions, explanations, and models

1.7   Communicate scientific procedures and explanations

1.8   Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry

8 A SI 2:   Understandings about scientific inquiry: Grades 5-8
2.5   Scientific explanations

2.6   Role of critical evaluation

(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

AL4: Analyze change in various contexts.:
Grades 6-8 e. use graphs to analyze the nature of changes in quantities in linear relationships

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

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

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

CNX2: Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole:
Grades 6-8

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

General Instructions for the Teacher:

The total time for this task is 45 minutes. Students work together for up to 20 minutes performing the task and recording data on their own individual Data Sheet. At this point students should be instructed to complete Questions #4- 8 on the Student Response Form.

Materials for "Where the Rubber Meets the Road":

At this station students should have:
  • One Student Response Form for each student
  • One Data Sheet  for each student
  • Three strips of asphalt (labeled D, W, and O)
  • Two blocks with rubber surfaces (labeled hard and soft)
  • One spring scale
  • One sand-filled container (200g)

For each task administration:

  • Newspaper or other table covering
  • Small container of water
  • Sharpened pencils

Advance Preparation:

The table should be covered before setting out the materials. Prepare the asphalt strips ahead of time. Spread water on asphalt strip W and spread oil on asphalt strip O before students begin. Discard strip O (oiled) after each administration; reuse other two strips.


  • 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.


    • To target the specific NCTM standard(s) to be measured, ask students to formulate new questions and plan new studies to answer them.


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