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Administration Procedures

10th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: The RAND Institute (RAND)
1994 Administration


In this task, students explore the relationship between color and heat absorption by measuring the temperature change of water in differently colored test tubes as they are exposed to a heat lamp. Students first have the opportunity to "mess around" with the equipment. They then design and perform an experiment and finish by completing a pre-designed experiment and analyzing results.

The task assesses students' abilities to design and conduct investigations, gather and organize data, and analyze results.

This task is designed to take students approximately 60-90 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Heat Absorption

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.

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:

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
Grades 9-12 l. understand and perform transformations such as arithmetically combining, composing, and inverting commonly used functions, using technology to perform such operations on more-complicated symbolic expressions

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

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 m. understand histograms, parallel box plots, and scatter plots and use them to display data

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

RP2: Make and investigate mathematical conjectures:
Grades 9-12

COM2: Communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peer, teachers, and others:
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 60-90 minutes to complete.

Students will be working in groups 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 Radiation:

The teacher will need:
  • water supply from faucet or container labeled "tap Water."
  • safety goggles for every student
  • paper towels (or other drying material)

At this station students should have:

  • Three tests tubes, one yellow, one gray, one blue
  • 1 group answer sheet
  • 1 Celsius thermometer
  • 1 watch with second hand or stopwatch
  • 1 250- ml beaker
  • 1 400- ml beaker
  • 1 100-ml graduated cylinder
  • 1 test tube rack
  • 1 support stand and rod (ring stand)
  • 1 reflector lamp
  • 1 150- watt light bulb
  • 1 metric ruler
  • 3 or more textbooks (to make platform for raising test tube rack)

Advance Preparation:

  • If colored test tubes can not be obtained, paint test tubes with yellow, blue, and gray paint.


  • The reflector lamp and bulb will get hot. Caution students about working near lamp.
  • Caution students about working with glass items.
  • 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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