administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Plastic Wrap
Administration Procedures
4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)


Students compare the quality and price of different kinds of plastic kitchen wrap. Students do simple "tests" on each of 4 samples, record observations and do simple calculations. Then, the students must rank the four kinds of wrap from best to worst.

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

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Properties of objects and materials

Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • 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: 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.

(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

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
Grades pre K-5 f. represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs

NO2: Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another :
Grades pre K-5 e. understand the effects of multiplying and dividing whole numbers

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

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

CON3: Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics:
Grades pre K-5

REP3: Use representations to model and interpret physical, social, and mathematical phenomena:
Grades pre K-5

General Instructions to the Teacher:

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

Students may work in groups of 4 for the experiment/activity part of this exercise, however each student in the group must fill-out their own Data Sheet.

Students work together for up to 20 minutes. They are instructed to notify you when finished with the group work, and then to go on to the individual work beginning with question #1. If students are still working together 20 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 about 25 minutes to complete the individual activity.

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 easily accessible. All supplies should be clearly labeled.

Materials for "Plastic Wrapped":

At this station students should have:

  • 4 different brands of plastic wrap (all the same width) in their original packaging showing the price for each brand, each box marked from A - D.
  • a bowl
  • several small weights
  • pen or pencil

Advance Preparation:

Each brand of plastic wrap should be labeled A, B, C, or D.

Teacher: 1) Label boxes and set up student workstation.

Student: 1) Place wrap over bowl.
2) Perform tasks.



  • 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.


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