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


In this task students will measure the temperatures of three cups of water in degrees Celsius, record temperatures in a chart and graph the results. Students then relate cooling and warming to surrounding temperature, and apply the concepts of cooling and warming to everyday events.

Groups of students will work with three cans of water; one at room temperature, one hot, and one ice cold. They will observe the cooling and warming of the hot and cold cans by measuring the change of temperature over time and comparing them to the water that began at room temperature. They will record their measurements in a table and graph the results. As individuals, they will attempt to develop explanations for the observations made and apply their findings to actual situations.

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

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science
Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Heat and temperature

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 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 studentsí 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 3: Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism: Grades K-4
3.2 Heat can be produced in many ways, such as burning, rubbing, or mixing one substance with another. Heat can move from one object to another by conduction.

(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 b.
describe quantitative change, such as a student’s growing two inches in one year

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
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

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

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: 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 45 minutes to complete.

Students may work in groups of 4 (3-5) for the experiment/activity part of this exercise. 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. 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 "Temperature School":

At this station students should have:

3 Celsius thermometers
Three-minute sand timer (hour glass type)
3 6-ounce metal cans marked "A", "B", and "C"
1 1/2 cup measuring cup with pouring spout
3 labeled thermal containers with prepared water:
-"Room Temperature Water" - at room temperature
-"Hot Water" - approximately 60 degrees Celsius
-"Ice Water" - mixture of ice and water
ice, hot water
paper towels

Advance Preparation:

Water at correct temperatures must be prepared before the testing period. Use ice and hot water from school sources. Room temperature water can be prepared by mixing hot and cold water while measuring the water temperature, or a supply of water can be left out in the same room where the test will be given for at least 30 minutes prior to the test period. This temperature MUST be the same as the temperature in the room which is easily measured by leaving one of the thermometers in air for a while.


  • 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.

Advanced Preparation Set Up:




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