administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Classification in Action
Administration Procedures
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)


Students work with a set of objects to set up both quantitative and qualitative classification systems.

As a group, students follow an example to design and complete two classification systems using a set of objects provided. Individually, they describe how another object would fit into one of their systems, describe other classification systems the group could have used, and relate classification to everyday life.

This task is designed to take students approximately 40-50 minutes to complete. The activity portion is done in small groups. The follow-up questions are completed individually by each student working alone.

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science
Physical Science
Earth/Space Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Nature of scientific knowledge
Properties of objects and materials

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:

4 B PS 1: Properties of objects and materials: Grades K-4
1.1  Objects have many observable properties, including size, weight, shape, color, temperature, and the ability to react with other substances. Those properties can be measured using tools, such as rulers, balances, and thermometers.

12 G HNS 2: Nature of scientific knowledge: Grades 9-12
1.1  Science distinguishes itself from other ways of knowing and from other bodies of knowledge through the use of empirical standards, logical arguments, and skepticism, as scientists strive for certainty of their proposed explanations.

12 A SI 1: Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 9-12
1.3  Use technology and mathematics
1.4  Formulate scientific explanations and models
1.5  Analyze alternative explanations
1.6  Communicate a scientific argument

(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:

AL3: Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships:
Grades 9-12 d. identify essential quantitative relationships in a situation and determine the class or classes of functions that might model the relationships

GEO1: Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships:
Grades 9-12 m. explore relationships (including congruence and similarity) among classes of two- and three-dimensional geometric objects, make and test conjectures about them, and solve problems involving them

MEAS1: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement:
Grades 9-12 m. make decisions about units and scales that are appropriate for problem situations involving measurement

PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts:
Grades 9-12

COM2: Communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others:
Grades 9-12

CNX1: Organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication:
Grades 9-12


General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 40-50 minutes to complete.

Students will be working in groups of 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 inside the "Student Response Form." 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 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.

Materials for "Classification in Action":

At this station students should have:

One piece of string
Plastic bag containing bolt, nail, large nut, paper clip, nickel, wood cube, plastic cube, button, wood dowel, Lego block
Metric ruler or each student
Calculator for each student
100 ml graduated cylinder
small beaker
large beaker
paper towels
sharpened pencils

"Mystery Object" for each student (round, plastic bead with a hole alone one axis, and is different color than the other objects in the classification set)

Advance Preparation:

Fill the small beaker with water before students begin. Remove the assorted small objects when the group work is complete, and then pass out the Mystery Objects (individual marbles/beads).


  • 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.

Kentucky Department of Education
Performance Events 1994-95


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