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Administration Procedures

Grade K-4 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Education Department (NYSED)
NYS Alternative Assessment in Science Project (1996)


Students will manipulate clear and opaque materials and observe the ability of those different objects to magnify small letters.

This task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations describe physical properties of good magnifiers.

This task is designed to take students approximately 8-10 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Properties of Matter

Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • gathering and organizing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data
  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations

National Science Education Standards:

4 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
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 1: Properties of Matter: Grades K-4
1.1 Objects have many observable properties, including size, weight, color, temperature, and the ability to react with other substances. Those properties can be measured using tools, such as rulers, balances, and thermometers.

(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.

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades pre K-5 b. sort and classify objects according to their attributes and organize data about the objects

GEO1: Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships:
Grades pre K-5 b. describe attributes and parts of two- and three-dimensional shapes

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

PS3: Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems:
Grades pre K-5

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

REP1: Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas:
Grades pre K-5

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take approximately 8-10 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 "Magnifiers":

The teacher will need:

  • scissors or craft knife
  • resealable plastic bags

At each station students should have:

  • clear glass ball (marble)
  • clear rod
  • clear plastic block
  • white rod
  • hand lens

Advance Preparation:

  • Clear glass balls (marbles can be purchased at a florist or craft supply store. You may find ones that have a flat surface; these work very well.
  • The clear plastic blocks should be 1" X 1" pieces of 1/4" Plexiglas. Do not use a cube of plastic (1" X 1" X 1"); it could be misleading for the students.
  • Plexiglas can be purchased at a hardware store. It is easily cut with a hack saw or a saber saw.
  • Clear rods can be the clear craft glue sticks used in some hot glue guns.
  • The white rods can also be craft glue sticks used in some hot glue guns. The glue sticks can be cut into 2 or 3 pieces for this experiment as the student only needs about a two inch rod. Glue sticks can be purchased at any craft or fabric store.
  • Individual sets of materials can be easily stored in resealable sandwich bags.


  • Be sure that the edges of the Plexiglas are sanded smooth.
  • 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.


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