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Follow Those Tracks
Administration Procedures
4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Alternative Assessment in Science Project (NYSED)
1996 Administration


Students will observe a picture containing patterns of animal tracks, infer what might have happened based upon the pattern of tracks, and write a story describing what might have happened.

The task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations and make generalized inferences from their observations.

This task is designed to take students approximately 15-30 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Organisms and their environments

Performance Expectations:

  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations and solve new problems

National Science Education Standards:

4 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades K-4

1.5 Communicate investigations and explanations. Students should begin developing the abilities to communicate, critique, and analyze their work and the work of other students. This communication might be spoken or drawn as well as written.

4 C LS 3: Organisms and their environments: Grades K-4
3.2 An organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move to new locations.

(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:

PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts:
Grades pre K-5

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 15-30 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.

Materials for "Follow Those Tracks":

At this station students should have:

  • 1 picture of animal tracks
  • paper for story

Advance Preparation:

  • Place the picture containing animal tracks on a desk or table along with paper for writing the story. Students bring their own pencils. You should photocopy more than one copy of the tracks picture as some students may want to follow the pattern with their pencil or make notes.


  • 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.


  • Task does not easily lend itself to including mathematical criteria in the rubric.

Advanced Preparation Set Up:

Students need direction sheet and a pencil for this task.


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