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Administration Procedures
Grades 9-12 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Alternative Assessment in Science Project (NYSED)


Students are presented with data in a table and asked to determine the effect of thermal pollution on a certain species of fish. Students analyze data related to temperature and dissolved oxygen by constructing a line graph from the data provided and using the data to explain their reasoning about the impact a change in temperature could have on the fish.

This task is designed to take students approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

The Living Environment

Performance Expectations:

  • organizing, and representing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data
  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations and solve new problems<

National Science Education Standards:

12 A SI 1: Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 9-12
1.3 Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. A variety of technologies, such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators, should be an integral component of scientific investigations. The use of computers for the collection, analysis, and display of data is also a part of this standard. Mathematics plays an essential role in all aspects of an inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing questions, formulas are used for developing explanations, and charts and graphs are used for communicating results.

1.4 Formulate scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence. Student inquiries should culminate in formulating an explanation or model. Models should be physical, conceptual, and mathematical. In the process of answering the questions, the students should engage in discussions and arguments that result in the revision of their explanations. These discussions should be based on scientific knowledge, the use of logic, and evidence from their investigation.

12 F SPSP 5: Natural and human-induced hazards: Grades 9-12
5.4 Natural and human induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk. Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society, as well as cause risks. Students should understand the costs and trade-offs of various hazards ranging from those with minor risk to a few people to major catastrophes with major risk to many people. The scale of events and the accuracy with which scientists and engineers can (and cannot) predict events are important considerations.

(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 9-12 n. interpret representations of functions of two variables

AL3: Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships:
Grades 9-12 f. draw reasonable conclusions about a situation being modeled

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades 9-12 m. understand histograms, parallel box plots, and scatter plots and use them to display data

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

CNX3: Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics:
Grades 9-12

REP1: Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas:
Grades 9-12

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 20 minutes to complete and, therefore, may not require an entire normal class period to administer. The teacher should incorporate a complimentary activity either prior to, or following the use of this task.

Students will be working individually. This task should be used after students have studied the concept of dissolved oxygen and its relationship to aquatic organisms. Data is given in units of parts per million (ppm) for the concentration of dissolved oxygen.

Students are asked to suggest two ways of preventing the thermal pollution and still have the industrial development occur. Class discussions of such issues should take place prior to using this task.

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

Materials for "Fishkill":

At this station students should have:

  • worksheet
  • pencil
  • ruler

Advance Preparation:

  • None.


  • 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.


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