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Hooke's Law
Administration Procedures

Grades 9-12 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Developed through University of Buffalo and NORC (1991)


Students design and carry out an experiment testing Hooke's Law, which describes the relationship between the force applied to a spring and its elongation (stretch).

This task assesses students' abilities to design an experiment (with hypothesis, expected effect, and description of independent and dependent variables, procedures for investigation, and plan for organizing observations), collect consistent and accurate data, complete a data table, create a graph with plotted points, calculate force and stretch, and make conclusions consistent with scientific principles and identifying sources of error.

This task is designed to take students approximately 80 minutes to complete - 30 minutes for Part A (designing the experiment) and 50 minutes for Part B (completing the experiment).

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Motions and forces

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:

12 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 9-12
1.2 Design and conduct scientific investigations. Designing and conducting a scientific investigation requires introduction to the major concepts in the area being investigated, proper equipment, safety precautions, assistance with methodological problems, recommendations for use of technologies, clarification of ideas that guide the inquiry, and scientific knowledge obtained from sources other than the actual investigation. The investigation may also require student clarification of the question, method, controls, and variables; student organization and display of data; student revision of methods and explanations; and a public presentation of the results with a critical response from peers. Regardless of the scientific investigation performed, students must use evidence, apply logic, and construct an argument for their proposed explanations.

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 and revise 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 B PS 4: Motions and forces: Grades 9-12
4.1 Objects change their motion only when a net force is applied. Laws of motion are used to calculate precisely the effects of forces on the motion of objects. The magnitude of the change in motion can be calculated using the relatio12ip F=ma, which is independent of the nature of the force. Whenever one object exerts force on another, a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is exerted on the first object.

(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:

NO3: Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates:
Grades 9-12 n. develop fluency in operations with real numbers, vectors, and matrices, using mental computation or paper-and-pencil calculations for simple cases and technology for more-complicated cases
Grades 9-12 o. judge the reasonableness of numerical computations and their results

AL1: Understand patterns, relations and functions:
Grades 9-12 k. analyze functions of one variable by investigating rates of change, intercepts, zeros, asymptotes, and local and global behavior

AL2: Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols:
Grades 9-12 j. understand the meaning of equivalent forms of expressions, equations, inequalities, and relations
Grades 9-12 k. write equivalent forms of equations, inequalities, and systems of equations and solve them with fluency-mentally or with paper and pencil in simple cases and using technology in all cases
Grades 9-12 l. use symbolic algebra to represent and explain mathematical relationships

AL4: Analyze change in various contexts:
Grades 9-12 f. approximate and interpret rates of change form graphical and numerical data

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades 9-12 l. understand the meaning of measurement data and categorical data, of univariate and bivariate data, and of the term variable
Grades 9-12 m. understand histograms, parallel box plots, and scatter plots and use them to display data

PS1: Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving:
Grades 9-12

RP3: Develop and evaluate mathematical arguments and proofs:
Grades 9-12

COM4: Use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely:
Grades 9-12

REP2: Select, apply, and translate among mathematical representations to solve problems:
Grades 9-12

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 80 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 "Hooke's Law":

  • a set of masses which total 1 kg
  • Hooke's Law Apparatus (or equivalent)
  • graph paper
  • Sample Spring A
  • C-clamp
  • calculator

Note: The objective is to have students determine whether their spring will stretch 0.3m when 15N is attached. They should not have 15N available to make this determination.

Advance Preparation:



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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