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Administration Procedures
Contributed by: Assessment of Performance Unit (APU)


Students determine the best material from which to make a jacket to keep the body warm in a cold, dry, windy climate.

This task assesses the student' ability to perform an entire investigation. In this question the independent variable to be tested is the type of the fabric. The dependent variable to be judged is the thermal conductivity of the fabrics.

The problem is set outside of the laboratory situation but the pupil is given clues about how to simulate the situation using laboratory apparatus. The apparatus presented to the pupil and its layout are shown in the materials section.

This task is designed to take students approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Transfer of energy

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: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 5-8
1.2 Design and conduct a scientific investigation. Students should develop general abilities, such as systematic observation, making accurate measurements, and identifying and controlling variables. They should also develop the ability to clarify their ideas that are influencing and guiding the inquiry, and to understand how those ideas compare with current scientific knowledge. Students can learn to formulate questions, design investigations, execute investigations, interpret data, use evidence to generate explanations, propose alternative explanations, and critique explanations and procedures.

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.

1.7 Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. With practice, students should become competent at communicating experimental methods, following instructions, describing observations, summarizing the results of other groups, and telling other students about investigations and explanations.

8 B PS 3: Transfer of energy: Grades 5-8
3.2 Heat moves in predictable ways, flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones, until both reach the same temperature.

(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

AL3: Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships:
Grades 6-8 c. model and solve contextualized problems using various representations, such as graphs, tables, and equations

MEAS1: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement:
Grades 6-8 j. understand both metric and customary systems of measurement

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 30-45 minutes to complete.

Students will be working individually during this exercise.

Students should be ready to work as soon as the period begins.

Materials for "Survival":

  • Two fabrics- sections of a blanket and sections of plastic
  • fabric fasteners- e.g. pins, tape, rubber bands
  • 5 thermometers
  • 2 metal cans, same size
  • 1 larger metal can
  • 1 smaller metal can
  • 1 plastic container
  • graduated cylinder
  • timer
  • hair dryer with cold air option
  • water source-both hot and cold

Advance Preparation:

  • Label same size metal cans "A" and "B."
  • Label larger can "C"
  • Label smaller can "D"
  • Label plastic container "E"
  • Cut materials to usable sections


  • 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.


  • N/A


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