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Systems and Scale | Activity 1.1

Target Student Performance

Students show their initial proficiencies for the overall unit goal: Questioning, investigating, and explaining how matter and energy changed during combustion of organic materials.

Students complete a pretest to assess their understanding of what happens to matter and energy during combustion.

Materials You Provide

  • Pencils (1 per student, for paper version)
  • Computer with an Internet connection (1 per student, for online version)

Resources Provided


Print one copy of the 1.1 Systems and Scale Unit Pretest for each student. If you are administering the pretest on the computer, register the class on the NREL website in advance, and prepare one computer with an Internet connection per student.

1. Explain the unit pretest.

Explain the purpose of the unit pretest to students:

  • It will help you as a teacher understand how students think about what happens when ethanol burns.
  • It will help them think about what they know and what questions they have.

Use the 1.1 Systems and Scale Unit Pretest to assess students' understanding of combustion in terms of learning progression levels. You should not give your students grades on the pretest or expect your students to know the correct answers. The document 1.1 Assessing Systems and Scale Unit Pretest has assessment guidelines, and identifies correct responses and explaining how students’ responses reveal their learning progression levels.