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Grade 12 Maintaining Water Systems Task: Administration and Scoring Materials

This page provides the directions and questions as they were presented to students who took the Maintaining Water Systems task. In addition, following each question is a sample response, the scoring criteria used to judge performance on the question, and performance data for students in the nation.

In this task, students make a preliminary recommendation for which of two locations would be the better site for building a new town based on which location might have better water quality. Students then test samples of water from both locations and determine whether the samples meet federal standards for various pollutants. Finally, students provide a final recommendation for the better site to build the town based on the results.

See the test booklet.

Directions and Materials
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


For this task, you received a kit that contains materials you will use to perform your investigation in the next 40 minutes. Please open your kit now, take all of the things out of the bag, and put them on your desk.

Do not taste or smell the water samples.

Use the diagrams on the following two pages to check that all of the materials in the diagrams are included in your kit. If any materials are missing, raise your hand and the administrator will provide you with the materials that you need.

Diagram 1

Pictures of the Map of the Water System, Reference Chart 1, Reference Chart 2, and Reference Chart 3.



Diagram 2

Picture of water samples from sites A and B, test strips for copper, iron, nitrate and pH, paper towels, safety goggles, safety gloves, and a stopwatch.



Diagram 3
Picture of a stopwatch and its split/reset and start/stop buttons. 

    • To start the watch, push the START/STOP button.
    • To stop the watch, push the START/STOP button again.
    • The time between the first and second pushes will show on the display. For example, the watch above reads 6.42 sec.
    • To reset the watch to zero, push the SPLIT/RESET button.
    • Always push the buttons in this sequence: START/STOP, START/STOP, SPLIT/RESET.
    • If at any time you need help or cannot reset the watch to zero, raise your hand, and the administrator will help you.




    You have been asked to provide a report on which of two sites is the better location for a new town.

    In this task, you will conduct your own investigation to determine which site is better. You will need to decide between the two sites based on the quality of water available from a nearby river. You will also describe which water treatment processes will be needed at this site.

    This task contains the following three parts:

    Part 1: Making a Prediction
    Part 2: Testing Water Samples
    Part 3: Selecting a Site for a New Town

    You will be scored on how well you

    • evaluate reference materials,
    • collect data,
    • use your data to determine which of two sites is the better location for a new town, and
    • provide information about water treatment processes.


    Your kit includes reference materials that you will use in your investigation.

    • The map in your kit shows a water system made up of streams, rivers, and a bay. The map also shows the locations of a town, a shopping mall, a farm, and a coal mine. Each of these may potentially result in pollution of the water system.
    • Reference Chart 1 lists potential sources of water pollution and the types of pollutants from these sources.
    • Reference Chart 2 provides national drinking water standards and lists the maximum levels allowed for a number of pollutants.
    • Reference Chart 3 provides test results from an outside laboratory.
    • Four test kits with test strips, instructions, and color reference charts are provided for conducting and interpreting the results of each test.


    Follow the directions on each page and write your answers to the questions in the spaces provided in your booklet.