Ohio Resource Center
Floating Pencil
Kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
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Professional Commentary

Students observe, measure, and compare the lengths of the portion of a pencil that floats above the water surface in fresh water and salt water. They then determine if an unknown water sample is fresh water or salt water, and predict how the addition of more salt to the salt water would affect the floating pencil. The task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations, measure volume using a graduated cylinder, measure length using a ruler, apply their observations and measurements to test an unknown, make generalized inferences from their observations, and apply their understanding to an everyday situation. This task is designed to take students approximately 20 minutes to complete. This performance assessment is part of the PALS (Performance Assessment Links in Science) collection. (author/ts)

Ohio Science Academic Content Standards (2002)
Scientific Inquiry
Benchmarks (K–2)
Design and conduct a simple investigation to explore a question.
Benchmarks (3–5)
Use appropriate instruments safely to observe, measure and collect data when conducting a scientific investigation.
Organize and evaluate observations, measurements and other data to formulate inferences and conclusions.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 2)
Use appropriate tools and simple equipment/instruments to safely gather scientific data (e.g., magnifiers, non-breakable thermometers, timers, rulers, balances, calculators and other appropriate tools).
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 3)
Select the appropriate tools and use relevant safety procedures to measure and record length and weight in metric and English units.
Communicate scientific findings to others through a variety of methods (e.g., pictures, written, oral and recorded observations).
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 4)
Select the appropriate tools and use relevant safety procedures to measure and record length, weight, volume, temperature and area in metric and English units.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 5)
Select and safely use the appropriate tools to collect data when conducting investigations and communicating findings to others(e.g., thermometers, timers, balances, spring scales, magnifiers, microscopes and other appropriate tools).
Use evidence and observations to explain and communicate the results of investigations.
Scientific Ways of Knowing
Benchmarks (K–2)
Recognize that there are different ways to carry out scientific investigations. Realize that investigations can be repeated under the same conditions with similar results and may have different explanations.
Benchmarks (3–5)
Explain the importance of keeping records of observations and investigations that are accurate and understandable.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 1)
Demonstrate good explanations based on evidence from investigations and observations.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 4)
Record the results and data from an investigation and make a reasonable explanation.
National Science Education Standards
Science as Inquiry
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (Grades Kindergarten - 4)
Physical Science
Properties of objects and materials (Grades Kindergarten - 4)