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Administration Procedures

4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)
Performance Events 1993-94


Students will experiment with a pendulum to find out why it might swing at different speeds at different times.

This task is designed to take approximately 30 minutes.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Position and motion of objects

Performance Expectations:

  • measuring time intervals using a stopwatch
  • collecting data on the affect of two variables on pendulum swings
  • developing conclusions about how each of the variables affects the number of pedulum swings
  • organizing inforation on proscribed tables

National Science Education Standards:

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.

1.4 Use data to construct a reasonable explanation. This aspect of the standard emphasizes the students’ 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 objects and materials: Grades K-4
2.2 An object’s motion can be described by tracing and measuring its position over time.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

ALG4: Analyze change in various contexts.
Grades preK-5 c. investigate how a change in one variable relates to a change in a second variable;
Grades preK-5 d. identify and describe situations with constant or varying rates of change and compare them.

MEAS1: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.
Grades preK-5 a. recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time

MEAS2: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.
Grades preK-5 c. use tools to measure.

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.
Grades preK-5 e. collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments
Grades preK-5 f. represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs

DAP3: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data:
Grades preK-5 b. propose and justify conclusions and predictions that are based on data and design studies to further investigate the conclusions or predictions.

PS1: Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving:
Grades 6-8

RP2: Make and investigate mathematical conjectures:
Grades 6-8

CON1: Organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication:
Grades 6-8

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 45 minutes.

Students will be working both in groups and 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 "Swingers":

At each group should have:

  • Information sheet
  • Three weights
  • Pencils
  • Three wires
  • Bar

Advance Preparation:

  • 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 heavey 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.


  • Ask students to graph data from tables.


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