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


Students examine and modify a swinging apparatus.

Questions in the observation category assess pupils' ability to use a variety of senses to observe data in a certain way- a scientific way. All observing is selective and guided by a purpose. The general purpose in this test is that shared by scientists: discerning regularities, similarities and differences, patterns of various kinds and significant or systematic changes with time.

The assessment reflects a view of observation as the collection and interpretation of real data where little or no initial filtering out of detail has been made. For this reason observation is tested by a variety of practical tasks.

This task is designed to take students approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Motions and forces

Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • using equipment
  • gathering, organizing, and representing data

National Science Education Standards:

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.

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.

(Use the "hot" link on the PALS home page to check the full text of related National Science Education Standards, if desired.)

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 15 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 "Swinging":

  • 2 clamp stands
  • 1 metal bar
  • 1 wooden rod with holes in either end
  • 2 strings of untwisting cord
  • 2 spheres or heavy beads (one yellow, one black)
  • 1 card with starting line
  • 1 stop clock
  • 1 pencil
  • chalk
  • tape

Advance Preparation:

  • Create swing stand with the two clamp stands and the metal bar between the two.
  • Tie beads to equal lengths of cord.
  • Thread cord through wooden rod.
  • Tie cords to metal bar and stand set up such that beads rest at equal lengths.
  • Position wooden rod half way from metal bar to beads.
  • Mark string with black pen away from metal bar to beads.
  • Mark a starting line on an index card and tape beneath apparatus so that beads will swing from starting line.


  • 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.


  • Cord can be tied around wooden rod then untied and moved instead of having cords threaded through holes.



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