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Administration Procedures
4th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO/SCASS)


Students investigate variables which may seem to affect the movement of a pendulum, or "swing." Students are then asked to interpret their observations and come to the conceptual discovery of the pendulum.

The physical experiment itself is designed for obvious results: that is, the shorter the string, the faster the swing. The weight of the pendulum bob (washer) bears no relation to the period of its swing, nor does the amplitude (the arc incidental to the original force exerted in setting the bob in motion).

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

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Position and Motion of Objects

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 2: Position and Motion of Objects: Grades K-4
2.2  An object's motion can be described by tracing and measuring its position over time.

4 A SI 1: Ability to do scientific inquiry: Grades K-4
1.3  Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data.

1.4  Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.

4 A SI 2: Understanding about scientific inquiry: Grades K-4
2.4  Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from 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:

AL4: Analyze change in various contexts:
Grades pre K-5 c. investigate how a change in one variable relates to a change in a second variable

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

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

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

PS1: Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving:
Grades pre K-5

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

REP3: Select, apply, and translate among mathematical representations to solve problems:
Grades pre K-5

General Instructions to the Teacher:

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

Students will be working in groups of 4-6 for the experiment/activity part of this exercise. Each student must record the information in his or her own booklet (test papers). Allow from 20 to 25 minutes to complete the group work, and a similar time period for students to do their individual answers to the test questions.

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 accessible. All supplies should be clearly labeled.

Materials for "Swings":

At this station students should have:
2 short pieces of string
2 long pieces of string
2 light washers
2 heavy washers
tape, as needed
clock with second hand or digital watch
pen or pencil

Advance Preparation:

Group assignments should be made in advance.

Teacher: 1) Prepare student workstation.

Student: 1) Tie strings to washers.
2) Tape apparatus to tables or desks.
3) 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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