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


Students examine two kinds of a common machine and explore what their parts do. Students are told to think of each machine as systems of parts (subsystems) that work together. They are asked to describe what each part does to help the whole system work.

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

Overall Task Content Area:

Science and technology

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Abilities of technological design

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 E ST 1: Abilities of technological design: Grades K-4
1.4 Evaluate a product or design. Students should evaluate their own results or solutions to problems, as well as those of other children, by considering how well a product or design met the challenge to solve a problem. When possible, students should use measurements and include constraints and other criteria in their evaluations. They should modify designs based on the results of evaluations.

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.

(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 b. sort and classify objects according to their attributes and organize data about the objects
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

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 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 30 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 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 about 15 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 "Classifying Rocks":

At this station students should have:

  • two different kinds of simple can openers, one made entirely of metal; the other made of two materials and of a slightly different design than the other opener.
  • pen or pencil

Advance Preparation:

None required.


  • 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 two different can openers and directions.


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