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Color Dots 2
Administration Procedures
Contributed by: New York State Alternative Assessment in Science Project (NYSED)
4th Grade Performance Task


Students observe bleeding of colored inks with water. The task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations, to understand mixtures, and to make generalized inferences from their observations.

This task is designed to take students approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Properties of objects and materials

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:

4 B PS 1: Properties of objects and materials: Grades K-4
1.1 Objects have many observable properties, including size, weight, shape, color, temperature, and the ability to react with other substances. Those properties can be measured using tools, such as rulers, balances and thermometers.

4 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades K-4
1.4 Use data to construct a reasonable explanation. This aspect of the standard emphasizes the studentsí thinking as they use data to formulate explanations. Even at the earliest grade levels, students should learn what constitutes evidence and judge the merits or strength of the data and information that will be used to make explanations. After students propose an explanation, they will appeal to the knowledge and evidence they obtained to support their explanations. Students should check their explanations against scientific knowledge, experiences, and observations of others.

(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 pre K-5 a. sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties

AL4: Analyze change in various contexts :
Grades pre K-5 a. describe qualitative change, such as a student's growing taller

RP2: Make and investigate mathematical conjectures:
Grades pre K-5

COM1: Organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication:
Grades pre K-5

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 10-15 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 "Colored Dots II":

The Teacher needs:

  • 1 yellow water soluble marker
  • 1 red water soluble marker
  • 1 green water soluble marker
  • 1 black water soluble marker
  • scissors
  • 1 thin line black permanent marker
  • extra paper towel
  • filter papers (9 cm diameter)
  • extra prepared filter papers

At this station students should have:

  • 1-5 oz clear plastic cup of water
  • 1- filter paper with colored dots
  • paper towel

Advance Preparation:

  1. Cut the filter paper with 4 tabs (about 1 cm x 3 cm) as shown in the diagram below. Place a different dot on each of the four tabs about 1 cm from the end.

  2. On the clear plastic cup, draw a thin line with a black permanent marker all the way around the cup about 4 cm from the bottom of the cup.
  3. The line will serve as a fill line for the water. The tabs from the filter paper should just reach the top of the water line.
  4. You may have to adjust the tab cuts on the filter paper or the fill line on the clear glass.


  • 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.


  • Colored Dots 1 and Colored Dots 3
  • Task does not easily lend itself to including mathematical criteria in the rubric.

Advanced Preparation Set Up:

Teacher: 1) Mark filter paper with dots.
2) Cut flaps.
3) Draw "water line" in cup.


Student: 1) Fill cup with water to "water line." 2) Place filter in cup.



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