administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Keep Cool
Administration Procedures
4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO/SCASS)


Students test paper cups, styrofoam cups, and metal cans, to determine which type of container would be best to use to keep drinks cool on a hot day. One of each of the three types of containers is filled with ice water and a thermometer placed in each. Students are asked to record the temperature in each container after 30 seconds and again after 15 minutes. The total difference in temperature for each type of container is then determined and recorded. The students write their answer to Question #1 while they wait during the 15 minute interval, then answer Question 2 & 3 after taking the second temperature readings.

This task is designed to take students approximately 40-50 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.

1.2 Objects are made of one or more materials, such as paper, wood and metal. Objects can be described by the properties of the materials from which they are made, and those properties can be used to separate or sort a group of objects or materials.

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

1.3 Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses. In early years, students develop simple skills, such as how to observe, measure, cut, connect, switch, turn on and off, pour, hold, tie, and hook. Beginning with simple instruments, students can use rulers to measure the length, height, and depth of objects and materials; thermometers to measure temperature; watches to measure time; beam balances and spring scales to measure weight and force; magnifiers to observe objects and organisms; and microscopes to observe the finer details of plants, animals, rocks, and other materials. Children also develop skills in the use of computers and calculators for conducting investigations.

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.

4 B PS 3: Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism
3.2 Heat can be produced in many ways, such as burning, rubbing, or mixing one substance with another. Heat can move from one object to another by conduction.

(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:

AL4: Analyze change in various contexts:
Grades pre K-5 b.
describe quantitative change, such as a student’s growing two inches in one year

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades pre K-5 e. collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments

MEAS1: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement:
Grades pre K-5 a. recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time
Grades pre K-5 b.
compare and order objects according to these (length, volume, weight, area, and time) attributes

MEAS2: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements:
Grades pre K-5 c. use tools to measure

RP3: Develop and evaluate mathematical arguments and proofs:
Grades pre K-5


General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 40-50 minutes to complete.

Students will be working in groups of 4-6 for the experiment/activity part of this exercise. Each student must record the information in his or her own booklet (test papers). Allow from 20 to 25 minutes to complete the group work, and a similar time period for students to do their individual answers to the test questions.

Be sure to have the students strain any ice out of the water when they put it into the cups. If ice is present the temperature will not change significantly until the ice completely melts.

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 accessible. All supplies should be clearly labeled.

Materials for "Keep Cool":

At this station students should have:

3 thermometers (Celsius)
1 measuring cup
1 metal can
1 styrofoam cup
1 paper cup
1 container of ice water (about 1 liter for each group of 4)
clock with second hand or digital watch
pen or pencil

Advance Preparation:

Group assignments should be made in advance.

To be sure that the accuracy of the thermometers is not a major variable, lay out all of the thermometers for a few minutes. Then, choose three thermometers that have temperature readings that are nearly the same for each student station.


  • 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.


  • Rubric language should be expanded and targeted to the specific NCTM standard(s) to be measured.

Advanced Preparation Set Up:

Teacher: 1) Prepare workstation.  
Student: 1) Obtain ice water without ice. 2) Perform Tasks



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