Grade 58 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Education Department (NYSED)
NYS Alternative Assessment in Science Project (1996)
Description:
Students will measure the properties of two different
types of soap and wood and calculate their densities. Then they
will predict whether or not each object would float or sink in
fresh or salt water.
The task assesses students' abilities to make simple
observations, collect and organize data, apply mathematical concepts,
and make predictions based on collected data.
This task is designed to take students approximately
1015 minutes to complete.
Overall Task Content Area:
Earth Science
Specific Knowledge Areas:
Properties and changes of properties in 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 A SI 1: Use appropriate tools and techniques
to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
1.3 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.
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 B PS 1: Properties and changes of properties
in matter
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.
(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:
MEAS1: Understand
measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes
of measurement:
Grades 68 j. understand both metric and customary
systems of measurement
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
DAP3: Develop and evaluate
inferences and predictions that are based on data:
Grades 68 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 68
CNX1: Organize and consolidate their mathematical
thinking through communication:
Grades 68
COM2: Communicate their mathematical
thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others:
Grades 68
REP1: Create and use representations to
organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas:
Grades 68
General Instructions to the Teacher:
This task is designed to take students approximately 1015 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 "Soap, Wood, and Water":
At this station students should have:
 1 calculator
 1 balance (gm)
 1 metric ruler
 1 wood sample
 1 soap sample A
 1 soap sample B
In preparation for the activity the teacher needs:
 soap recommendation: square white soap (i.e. Ivory), sharp cornered
amber colored soap (i.e. Neutrogena)
Advance Preparation:
 Label the blocks of soap A and B. If the labeled blocks are
the same for all stations in the class label the sets 1A, 1B,
2A, 2B, etc.
 Measure the mass and dimensions of the soap block and record
the mass and volume on the teacher scoring rubric.
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:
 Use soda pop examples. Explain the density differences between
CocaCola Classic; an Uncola diet; and an empty can (filled w/air)
because of how they float.
 To target the specific NCTM standard(s) to be measured, ask
students to use customary and metric measurements.
