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MCAS Science and Technology

MCAS Science and Technology 8th grade. Spring 2017. Based on learning standards in the four major content strands of the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework.

MCAS Science and Tech 8th grade

• Earth and Space Science
• Life Science (Biology)
• Physical Sciences (Chemistry and Physics)
• Technology/Engineering

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MCAS Evolution

MCAS Evolution

Feb 2016 MCAS.  Scientists often compare fossils of extinct organisms with living organisms to help determine evolutionary relationships. What is the primary information that scientists use when comparing fossils with living organisms?

A. the types of minerals that formed the fossils
B. the size of the rocks that contained the fossils
C. the cause of death for the fossilized organisms
D. the physical characteristics of the fossilized organisms

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Feb 2016 MCAS .

The pictures below show the shells of some species of land snails found on a Pacific island. Each species was found on a different hill on the island. Based on the snails’ shell shapes, scientists made hypotheses about the evolutionary relationships among the snails. Which of the following would be the best characteristic to compare in order to test these hypotheses?

Snail shells 16

A. the size of the snails
B. the diet of the snails
C. the DNA of the snails
D. the average age of the snails

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Scientists hypothesized that several species of frogs called tiger frogs evolved from a recent common ancestor. The hypothesis was based on fossil evidence and on physical similarities among living species.

Which of the following provides the best additional support for the scientists’ hypothesis?

A. Tiger frogs have longer life spans than other frog species.
B. Tiger frogs have the same diet and all use enzymes to digest food.
C. Tiger frogs live near each other and are all preyed upon by the same predator species.
D. Tiger frogs have similarities in their mitochondrial DNA that are not shared by other frog species.

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Spring 2017

Some populations of Atlantic tomcod fish have an allele that makes the fish resistant to toxic pollutants called PCBs. Tomcod populations in several rivers were analyzed for the presence of this allele. Each river had varying levels of PCB pollution. Which of the following results would best support the conclusion that natural selection is influencing the presence of this allele in the tomcod populations?

A. All of the tomcod in each of the rivers have this allele.

B. The percentage of tomcod with this allele remains the same from year to year in each river.

C. The rivers with high PCB levels have larger percentages of tomcod with this allele than the rivers without PCBs.

D. Eggs from tomcod without this allele can hatch in rivers with or without PCBs, and eggs from tomcod with this allele can only hatch in rivers without PCBs.

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Spring 2017.

A researcher observed army ants, which form colonies with one queen ant and many worker ants. The researcher observed worker ants moving from place to place to hunt and collect a variety of food for the colony. The queen ant was observed mating with a male ant from another ant colony. The queen produced many eggs after this mating. Which of the following could help increase the genetic diversity in the colony of army ants?

A. the queen ant mating with the ant from a different colony
B. the worker ants collecting the food for the colony to eat
C. the worker ants moving from place to place
D. the queen ant eating a variety of food

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Scientists discovered a 375-million-year old fossil in Canada. The diagram below shows the top and side views of the fossil.

Transitional form fossil amphibian
Which observation would best support the hypothesis that this organism was
a transitional form between amphibians and fish?

 

 

A. The fossil has a long body, which both modern amphibians and modern fish have.
B. The fossil is larger than most modern amphibians, but smaller than most ancient fish.
C. The fossil has some body structures that are similar to amphibians and some body structures that are similar to fish.
D. The fossil was discovered near a lake, which shows that the organism
needed water to reproduce, as do amphibians and fish.

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Some plants in an area produce a toxin that protects them from being eaten by a variety of insect species. The toxin decreases reproductive rates in insects. Because of a genetic mutation, some fruit flies can detect the plant toxin and therefore avoid eating the plant.

a. Describe how the number of fruit flies in the population that can detect the toxin will most likely change over the next 25 years.

b. According to the mechanism of natural selection, explain how the change you described in part (a) will occur.

c. Based on the changes in the fruit fly population, describe what will most likely happen to the plants’ production of the toxin. Explain your answer.

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Sperm whales have vestigial hip bones, and a small percentage of sperm whales
also have vestigial hind limbs. Which of the following statements best explains
the presence of these vestigial structures in sperm whales?

A. Sperm whales evolved from ancestors that walked on land.
B. Sperm whales are in the process of evolving into land mammals.
C. These structures are acquired by each individual sperm whale during its lifetime.
D. These structures resulted from sperm whales having a long period of embryonic development.

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2014 MCAS Open response question

An elephant shrew and a shrew are pictured below.

Elephant Shrew and shrew

For many years, scientists had classified elephant shrews in the same family as shrews. In the 1990s, however, scientists gathered evidence for the evolutionary tree below and reclassified elephant shrews into a different family from shrews.

MCAS Elephant Shrew cladogram phylogeny

a. Describe the most likely reason why scientists originally classified elephant shrews with shrews.

b. Using the evolutionary tree, identify the groups to which elephant shrews are most closely related.

c. Identify and explain the evidence scientists most likely used to build the evolutionary tree and reclassify elephant shrews.

d. Identify one other type of evidence that scientists use to determine evolutionary relationships and build evolutionary trees.

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Scientists measured and recorded the average body size in a bird population over time. One year, a period of cold weather killed many of the birds. A few generations later, the scientists observed that the average body size in the population was larger than it had been before the cold weather. The scientists concluded that the population had evolved through natural selection. Which of the following would provide the best evidence to support the scientists’ conclusion?

A. The size of the bird eggs also increased over time.
B. The birds with the largest body size were the males.
C. The frequency of alleles for body size changed in the bird population.
D. The number of birds in the population had decreased by 50% or more.

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The three-spined stickleback is a species of fish. It lives in the ocean and in streams that flow into the ocean. Some scientists think that the ocean populations and stream populations may be evolving into separate species. Which of the following statements describes how speciation of these fish would most likely occur?

A. Fish from stream populations would start to reach maturity at the same time as fish from ocean populations.

B. Fish from stream populations would sometimes swim into the ocean but fish from ocean populations would stop swimming into streams.

C. Ocean populations and stream populations would each mate fewer times per year and would have decreased birth rates over time.

D. Ocean populations and stream populations would each adapt differently to their environments and would accumulate enough differences over time to prevent interbreeding

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In a certain insect species, body color varies from very light gray to very dark gray. These insects are eaten by birds that find their prey by sight. A brush fire occurs, blackening the ground where one population of this insect species lives. Which of the following is most likely to occur over the next few years?

A. The body color in the population will mutate to black.
B. The percentage of very dark gray individuals will increase.
C. The distribution of body color in the population will not change.
D. The very light gray individuals will learn how to reproduce at a later age.

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MCAS Cell biology, mitosis, meiosis, fertilization

Different types of cells in the human body undergo mitosis at different rates. Which of the following statements best explains why skin cells frequently undergo mitosis?

A. Skin cells contain molecules of DNA.
B. Skin cells constantly need to be replaced or repaired.
C. Skin cells have large numbers of sensory nerve receptors.
D. Skin cells constantly need to produce antibodies to fight off infections.

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Mice with the same parents can have different traits. Which of the following
best explains how most of these differences occur?

A. Gametes join by binary fission.
B. Cells divide by asexual reproduction.
C. Genes assort independently during meiosis.
D. Spontaneous mutations occur during mitosis.

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Which of the following is always part of normal sexual reproduction?

A. The male produces gametes by mitosis.

B. An offspring looks identical to the parents at birth.

C. The female carries only one fertilized egg at a time.

D. An offspring receives half its chromosomes from each parent.

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Various MCAS questions may be related to bacteria.

a. Identify the process that bacteria cells use to reproduce.

b. Describe two similarities between the process that skin cells use for cell division and the process that you identified in part (a).

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2015 MCAS

The illustration below shows one chromosome pair in a zygote. The zygote was produced by sexual reproduction.

cell 2 chromosomes

Assuming normal meiosis and fertilization occurred, which illustration shows the egg and sperm that produced this zygote?

MCAS zygote fertilization

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The diagram below shows a plant cell at a particular stage in the cell cycle. This stage occurs immediately after which cellular process?

MCAS plant cell plate

A. crossing over
B. DNA replication
C. fertilization
D. mitosis

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2016 MCAS

Which of the following must occur before mitosis can begin?

A. DNA must be replicated in the nucleus.
B. RNA must move to the center of the nucleus.
C. Chromosomes must attach to the cell membrane.
D. Ribosomes must move to opposite sides of the cell.

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Each summer, up to 40% of the lobsters in a certain area lose one of their claws due to injury. By late fall, the missing claw usually begins to grow back. Which of the following describes the process by which lobsters grow new claws?

A. Lysosomes fuse together to recycle matter to build a new claw.
B. Mitotic cell division adds new cells to rebuild the lobster’s claw.
C. Facilitated diffusion moves body cells from the remaining claw to the new claw.
D. Cellular respiration creates nutrients to enlarge existing cells in the lobster’s claw.

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2014 MCAS

Sharks typically reproduce sexually. A particular female shark, however, gave birth in a zoo despite having no recent contact with a male shark.

a. Identify the type of cell division that produces eggs and sperm in animals such as sharks.

b. Describe what normally happens during fertilization in animals such as sharks. Be sure to identify the end product of fertilization.

Female sharks can store sperm after mating and then wait to fertilize their eggs.

Scientists investigated whether the female shark in the zoo did this.

c. Describe how DNA analysis can determine if the shark reproduced using stored sperm or if she reproduced asexually. Be sure to include the source(s) of DNA being analyzed and the results of the analysis in your answer.

d. Explain why sexual reproduction is important for the long-term survival of shark species.

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2016 MCAS open response question

The diagram below represents a plant cell with three structures labeled X, Y, and Z.

MCAS Plant cell

Plant cells and fungal cells have many of the same types of organelles. Structures X and Y are found in both plant cells and fungal cells. Structure Z is found in plant cells, but not in fungal cells.

a. Identify structure Y and describe its main function.

b. Identify structure Z and explain how plants use this structure to survive.

c. Explain how fungi can survive without structure Z

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Each summer, up to 40% of the lobsters in a certain area lose one of their claws due to injury. By late fall, the missing claw usually begins to grow back. Which of the following describes the process by which lobsters grow new claws?

A. Lysosomes fuse together to recycle matter to build a new claw.
B. Mitotic cell division adds new cells to rebuild the lobster’s claw.
C. Facilitated diffusion moves body cells from the remaining claw to the new claw.
D. Cellular respiration creates nutrients to enlarge existing cells in the
lobster’s claw.

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2017 MCAS

The diagram below shows a chloroplast and some of the components of the reactions that occur in chloroplasts.

Chloroplast

Which of the following is a product of the reactions that take place in a chloroplast?

A. hydrogen gas      B. nitrate      C. oxygen gas       D. protein

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In which of the following ways does the plasma membrane regulate the entry of molecules into a cell?

Creative Biomart Lipidsome-Based-Membrane-Protein-Production

A. The membrane allows only certain molecules to move into the cell.
B. The membrane destroys most molecules so that they do not enter the cell.
C. The membrane changes only certain molecules into ions before they move into the cell.
D. The membrane allows most molecules to transfer energy to the cell without entering the cell.

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Many  animals  have  either internal  or external  skeletons that  provide  support and  structure. Which  of the  following  parts  of  plant  cells  play  a  similar  role?

A.  cell membranes
B.  cell  walls
C.  chloroplasts
D.  cytoplasm

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Sample response: Sharks typically reproduce sexually.

 

 

Biology MCAS exams

Previous MCAS exams from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Feb 2017 Biology MCAS

Feb 2016 Biology MCAS

Feb 2015 Biology MCAS

Feb 2014 Biology MCAS

Feb 2013 Biology MCAS

Below you will find each released short-response question, open-response question, and writing prompt that was included on High School Biology MCAS tests; the scoring guide for each question; and a sample of student work at each score point for that question. Taken together, these provide a picture of the expectations for student performance on the MCAS tests.

 

Special Education accommodations

February 2018 MCAS Biology Test Administration Resources

MCAS Accessibility and Accommodations

SAMPLE MCAS High School Biology Reference Sheet For Students with Accommodation 20

]MCAS Access & Accommodations Manual Spring 2018

MCAS TEST ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES (PDF document)

 

MCAS Standard Accommodations

Frequent Breaks: The test is administered in short periods with frequent breaks

Time of Day: The test is administered at a time of day that takes into account the student’s medical or learning needs (IEP or 504 plan must specify time of day)

Small Group: The test is administered in a small group setting (no more than 10 students)

Separate Setting: The test is administered in a room other than the one used by the rest of the class

Individual: The test is administered to the student individually

Specified Area: The test is administered with the student seated at the front or other specified area of the room, in a study carrel, or in another enclosed area (IEP or 504 plan must specify where)

Familiar Test Administrator: The test is administered by a test administrator familiar to the student

Noise Buffers: The student wears noise buffers, after test administration instructions have been read (headphones with music playing are not allowed)

Magnification or Overlays: The student uses magnifying equipment, enlargement devices, colored visual overlays, or specially tinted lenses (IEP or 504 plan must specify which)

Test Directions: The test administrator clarifies general administration instructions No portion of the test items themselves (eg, the introduction to a reading selection) may be read or signed

Large-Print: The student uses a large-print version of the test

Braille: The student uses a Braille version of the test

Place Marker: The student uses a place marker

Track Test Items: The test administrator assists the student in tracking test items (eg, moving from one test question to the next) or by redirecting the student’s attention to the test

Amplification: The student uses sound amplification equipment

Test Administrator Reads Test Aloud (except ELA Reading Comprehension test): Test Administrator reads entire test session word-for-word exactly as written

Test Administrator Reads Test Aloud (except ELA Reading Comprehension test): Test administrator reads selected words, phrases, and/or sentences as directed by the student. The student points to the word, phrase, or sentence that he or she needs read aloud.

Test Administrator Signs Test (except ELA Reading Comprehension test): The test administrator signs the ELA Composition writing prompt or the Mathematics, Science and Technology/Engineering, and/or History and Social Science passages and test items to a student who is deaf or hard of hearing

Electronic Text Reader (except ELA Reading Comprehension test): The student uses an electronic text reader for the ELA Composition writing prompt or the Mathematics and Science and Technology/Engineering tests

Scribe Test (except ELA Composition): For open-response test items (and multiple-choice items if needed), the student dictates responses to a scribe or uses a speech-to-text conversion device to record responses

Organizer, Checklist, Reference Sheet, or Abacus: The student uses a graphic organizer, checklist, individualized mathematics reference sheet, or abacus

Student Signs or Reads Test Aloud: The student reads the test aloud to himself or herself, or student reads the test and records answers on audiotape, then writes responses to test items while playing back the tape; a student who is deaf or hard of hearing signs test items/responses onto video, then writes answers while playing back the tape

Monitor Placement of Responses: The test administrator monitors placement of student responses in the student’s answer booklet

Word Processor: The student uses a word processor, Alpha-Smart, or similar electronic keyboard to type the ELA Composition and/or answers to open-response questions

Answers Recorded in Test Booklet: The student records answers directly in the test booklet

Other Standard Accommodation: Other standard accommodation that is identified by the IEP Team or team, documented in the student’s IEP, and not on this list

Alternate Assessment (Portfolio)

MCAS Nonstandard 

Test Administrator Reads Aloud ELA Reading Comprehension Test: The test administrator reads the ELA Reading Comprehension test to a student

Test Administrator Signs ELA Reading Comprehension Test for a Student Who Is Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Electronic Text Reader for the ELA Reading Comprehension Test: The student uses an electronic text reader for the ELA Reading Comprehension test

Scribe ELA Composition: The student dictates the ELA Composition to a scribe or uses a speech-to-text conversion device to record the ELA Composition

Calculation Devices: The student uses a calculator, arithmetic table (including multiplication and division charts), or manipulatives on all sections of the Mathematics or Science and Technology/Engineering test

Spell- or Grammar-Checking Function on Word Processor, Spell-Checking Device, or Word Prediction Software for the ELA Composition: The student uses a spell- or grammar-checking function, spelling device (including hand-held electronic spellers), or word prediction software (IEP must specify which device) for the ELA Composition

Other Nonstandard Accommodation: Other nonstandard accommodation that is identified by the IEP Team or team, documented on the student’s IEP, and not on this list

 

 

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MCAS Open Response questions

Content Objectives: SWBAT construct answers to open-response questions on the physics MCAS.

2015, High School Intro Physics: sample open response question

2011 sample open response questions

2012 sample open response questions

2013 sample open response questions

2014 sample open response questions

2015 sample open response questions

2016 sample open response questions

  • Learning Standards:
  • For answering open-response questions – ELA Core Curriculum
  • CCRA.R.1 – Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite
  • specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • For answering problems involving equations: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics
  • Functions: Connections to Expressions, Equations, Modeling, and Coordinates.
  • Determining an output value for a particular input involves evaluating an expression; finding inputs that yield a
  • given output involves solving an equation.

MCAS light and optics practice problems

MCAS example problems

Which of the following statements describes what will most likely happen to the light ray after it strikes the aluminum foil?

A. The light ray will be absorbed by the shiny metal.
B. The light ray will be refracted after passing through the shiny metal.
C. The light ray will be reflected at a different angle to the normal than the incident light ray.
D. The light ray will be reflected at the same angle to the normal as the incident light ray

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wave-refraction-mcas-2011

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reflection-refraction-mcas-2016

2016 Physics MCAS

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reflection-mcas-2014

Physics MCAS 2014

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optics-mcas-2014

Physics MCAS 2014

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a. Identify and describe the wave behavior as the light rays pass through the glass lens.

b. Identify and describe the wave behavior as the light rays strike the mirror.

c. Copy the dotted box from the camera diagram into your Student Answer Booklet. Draw what must happen inside the box for light ray 2 to strike the viewfinder. Be sure to include
the following:
• either a lens or a mirror that is labeled
• the path of light ray 2
• a line normal to the surface where light ray 2 strikes

MCAS Heat problems

Problems on heat and thermodynamics: Massachusetts Physics MCAS

2015 MCAS Physics Exam

#4. The graph below shows how the temperature of a sample of water changes as energy is added to the sample.

heating-of-water-curve

During which interval does a gas form?
A. Q to R
B. R to S
C. S to T
D. T to U

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#21. Sunlight warms an area of Earth’s surface. Winds then carry thermal energy from this area to another location. Which two heat transfer processes are primarily involved in this situation?

A. radiation and convection
B. radiation and evaporation
C. conduction and convection
D. conduction and evaporation

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#24. Frozen food is submerged in a small insulated container of 95°C water. Which statement best describes the temperature of the food after two hours, assuming no heat is lost outside of the insulated container?

A. The temperature of the food will be 95°C.
B. The temperature of the food will be 100°C.
C. The temperature of the food will be the same as the temperature of the water.
D. The temperature of the food will be greater than the temperature of the water.

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#31 A student heats 200 g of water from 20°C to 70°C. How much heat did the student add to the water if the specific heat for water is 4.2 J/g C •° ?

A. 10,000 J            B. 14,000 J

C. 42,000 J            D. 76,000 J

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#44 A student was investigating cooling times for two pots made of different materials. One pot was stainless steel and the other pot was iron. The pots were placed on a table in a 25°C room. The pots were roughly the same size and shape, and contained the same amount of water. The pots and water were originally at 100°C. The student recorded the temperature of the water in each pot over time. The graph below shows the results.

stainless-steel-iron-heating

a. Determine the amount of time it took the water in the iron pot to cool from 100°C to 60°C.

b. Based on the graph, which pot, the iron pot or the stainless steel pot, was a better conductor of thermal energy? Explain your answer.

c. Identify two methods of heat transfer that occurred as the water in the pots cooled, and describe how the transfer of heat occurred for each method.

d. Describe when the pots no longer experienced a net loss of thermal energy.

2016 MCAS Physics Exam

A 1 kg sample of liquid water and a 1 kg sample of ice are placed on a table. Which of the following statements best compares these two samples?

A. The liquid water has a larger volume than the ice.
B. The liquid water has a greater weight than the ice.
C. The liquid water has more thermal energy than the ice.
D. The liquid water has more gravitational potential energy than the ice.

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6. Two U.S. quarters, initially at the same temperature, are heated with a flame. One of the quarters was made before 1965 and is composed of silver. The
other quarter was made after 1965 and is composed mostly of copper.
What information is needed to determine which quarter will heat up faster?

A. the specific heats of the metals and the mass of each coin
B. the initial temperature of the coins and the mass of each coin
C. the temperature of the flame and the specific heats of the metals
D. the initial temperature of the coins and the temperature of the flame

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16. A fan enables a computer’s processor to run for long periods of time without overheating. Which of the following forms of heat energy transfer does this
example best represent?

A. condensation
B. convection
C. evaporation
D. radiation

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18. A small steel rod is placed in 5 L of water. The initial temperature of the steel rod is 120°C, and the initial temperature of the water is 10°C. When does heat stop flowing between the steel rod and the water?

A. when the steel rod reaches 65°C
B. when the water reaches its boiling point
C. when the steel rod reaches 10°C and the water reaches 120°C
D. when the steel rod and the water reach the same temperature

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27. Two identical objects, one hot and one cold, are placed near each other in a closed system. Which of the following graphs shows what happens to the temperatures of the objects over time?

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44. During cold periods, many orange growers repeatedly spray their trees with water to prevent the oranges from freezing. If the air is cold enough, the sprayed water freezes around the oranges, leaving the oranges themselves unfrozen.

a. Identify a measurement tool that orange growers use to measure the average kinetic energy of the air.
b. Describe what happens to the average molecular kinetic energy of the sprayed water
as it cools before it freezes.
c. Describe what happens to the average molecular kinetic energy of the sprayed water
as it freezes.
d. Explain how the phase change of the sprayed water may protect the oranges from freezing.

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Sample “Open Response” answers: Question 44: Open-Response

Question 44: Open-Response
Reporting Category: Heat and Heat Transfer
Standard: 3.1 – Explain how heat energy is transferred by convection, conduction, and radiation.

A student was investigating cooling times for two pots made of different materials. One pot was stainless steel and the other pot was iron. The pots were placed on a table in a 25°C room. The pots were roughly the same size and shape, and contained the same amount of water. The pots and water were originally at 100°C. The student recorded the temperature of the water in each pot over time. The graph below shows the results.

stainless-steel-iron-heating

a. Determine the amount of time it took the water in the iron pot to cool from 100°C to 60°C.

b. Based on the graph, which pot, the iron pot or the stainless steel pot, was a better conductor of thermal energy? Explain your answer.

c. Identify two methods of heat transfer that occurred as the water in the pots cooled, and describe how the transfer of heat occurred for each method.

d. Describe when the pots no longer experienced a net loss of thermal energy.

Scoring Guide and Sample Student Work
Select a score point in the table below to view the sample student response.

Score Description
4 The response demonstrates a thorough understanding of heat transfer by convection, conduction, and radiation and of thermal equilibrium.
The response correctly determines the time it took for water in the iron pot to cool to 60°C, and clearly explains which pot is a better conductor.
The response also correctly identifies and clearly describes two methods of heat transfer that occurred as the water cooled, and describes when the pots no longer experienced a net loss of thermal energy.
4
3 The response demonstrates a general understanding of heat transfer by convection, conduction, and radiation and of thermal equilibrium.
2 The response demonstrates a limited understanding of heat transfer by convection, conduction, and radiation and of thermal equilibrium.
1 The response demonstrates a minimal understanding of heat transfer by convection, conduction, and radiation and of thermal equilibrium.
0 The response is incorrect or contains some correct work that is irrelevant to the skill or concept being measured.

Note: There are 2 sample student responses for Score Point 4.