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Let the Sunshine In
Administration Procedures
Grades 9-12 Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)


Students use data from an experiment to draw conclusions about how a product will work. They will collect and analyze data and study wavelengths of visible light.

Students set up equipment according to a diagram and perform an experiment by recording the temperature of three different-colored cups every 30 seconds for eight minutes. Individually, they organize and analyze the data, using it to make a recommendation on the design of a sun-filtering product.

This task is designed to take students approximately 40-50 minutes to complete. The activity portion is done in small groups for up to 20 minutes. The follow-up questions are completed individually by each student working alone.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Interactions of energy and matter
Conservation of Energy and the increase in disorder

Performance Expertations:

  • 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 B PS 5: Conservation of energy and increase in disorder: Grades 9-12
5.3 Heat consists of random motion and the vibrations of atoms, molecules, and ions. The higher the temperature, the greater the atomic or molecular motion.

12 B PS 6: Interactions of energy and matter: Grades 9-12
6.1 Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter.

12 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 9-12
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.

(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 k. analyze functions of one variable by investigating rates of change, intercepts, zeros, asymptotes, and local and global behavior

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 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

PS2: Solve problem 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: Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas:
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 40-50 minutes to complete.

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, students should open their Student Response Forms. 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 "Let the Sunshine In":

At this station students should have:
One Student Response Form and one Data Sheet for each student
One stopwatch
Three styrofoam cups with colored covers (one each red, yellow, purple) secured
One lamp with 100-watt bulb
Ring stand
Metric ruler for each student
Three lab thermometers
Four sets of colored pencils
Sharpened pencils

Advance Preparation:

Secure the colored covers to the cups with rubber bands. Insert one thermometer into the side of each cup as shown in the diagram. (seeDirections to the Student) Make sure to locate this task near an electrical outlet. Make sure there is a bulb in the lamp. Plug in the lamp and extension cord (if needed) to make sure the cord reaches the outlet safely and the equipment works.


  • 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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