administration student task rubric student work technical quality
People Interacting with the Environment
Administration Procedures
4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)
1993-94 Administration


Students explore the characteristics of different environments and the ways people and animals live in those environments. They then apply their understanding to an additional situation.

The task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations, collect data, make generalized inferences from their observations, and apply their understanding to an additional situation.

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

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

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 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 PS 3: Organisms and their environment: 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.

3.4 Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.

(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:

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades pre K-5 a. pose questions and gather data about themselves and their surroundings

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 45 minutes to complete.

Students will be working in groups of 3-4 during the first portion of this exercise. The second portion will be completed individually.

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 "People Interacting with the Environment":

At this station students should have:

  • three weights
  • three wires
  • a bar
  • one information sheet- "How to use the pendulum"
  • access to a clock with a second hand
  • sharpened pencils
  • The total time for this task is 45 minutes. Students work together for up to 30 minutes. They are instructed to notify you when finished with the work group, and then to go on to the individual work. If students are still working together 30 minutes after the testing begins, instruct them to cease their group work and begin individual work. At this point they may no longer talk. Whether or not they are just beginning their individual work, remind students that they now have 15 minutes to complete the individual activity.

Additional Instructions:

  • If the clock with the second hand is on the wall, the students will have to be placed near it. Check that the long wire with the heavy weight does not touch the floor. If it does, the students will need a thick book or other object to raise the bar. Set up the pendulum for the students using one wire and one weight.


  • 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 directions and a pencil for this task.


©1997-2005 SRI International. All rights reserved. Terms of Use