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Rising Waters
Administration Procedures
4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)


Students correlate the weight and water displacement of various balls. 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:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Properties of matter

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 matter: 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: Abilities necessary 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.

1.5 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.

(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.

MEAS1: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement:
Grades pre K-5 e. understand such attributes as length, area, weight, volume, and size of angle and select the appropriate type of unit for measuring each attribute

RP1: Recognize reasoning and proof as fundamental aspects of mathematics:
Grades pre K-5

CON1: Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas:
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 "Rising Waters":

At this station students should have:

  • six balls
  • one liter pitcher
  • one tape measure
  • one bag of hex nuts
  • one piece of string
  • balance scale
  • ruler
  • water pitcher
  • sharpened pencils
  • paper towels for clean up


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • N/A

Advanced Preparation Set Up:

Organize student work station.



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