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Administration Procedures
Contributed by: Assessment of Performance Unit (APU)


Students determine the best material from which to make a jacket to keep the body warm in a cold, dry, windy climate.

This task assesses the student' abilities to perform an entire investigation. In this question the independent variable to be tested is the type of the fabric. The dependent variable to be judged is the thermal conductivity of the fabrics.

The problem is set outside of the laboratory situation but the pupil is given clues about how to simulate the situation using laboratory apparatus. The apparatus presented to the pupil and its layout are shown in the materials section.

This task is designed to take students approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Transfer of energy

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.

1.4 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.

1.6 Communicate and defend a scientific argument. Students in school science programs should develop the abilities associated with accurate and effective communication. These include writing and following procedures, expressing concepts, reviewing information, summarizing data, using language appropriately, developing diagrams and charts, explaining statistical analysis, speaking clearly and logically, constructing a reasoned argument, and responding appropriately to critical comments.

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.)

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.

Students will be working individually during this exercise.

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

Materials for "Survival":

  • Two fabrics- sections of a blanket and sections of plastic
  • fabric fasteners- e.g. pins, tape, rubber bands
  • 5 thermometers
  • 2 metal cans – same size
  • 1 larger metal can
  • 1 smaller metal can
  • 1 plastic container
  • graduated cylinder
  • timer
  • hair dryer with cold air option
  • water source-both hot and cold

Advance Preparation:

  • Label same size metal cans "A" and "B."
  • Label larger can "C"
  • Label smaller can "D"
  • Label plastic container "E"
  • Cut materials to usable sections


  • 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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