Crosscutting Concepts

Crosscutting concepts are major ideas found throughout all science domains, grades, and other content areas. Sometimes, these concepts will be explictely taught in lessons, other times, students may be able to consider the connections on their own. The purpose of highlighting these concepts is to help students make connections across all disciplines, which hopefully strengthens their understanding and learning. The summaries below are from the NSTA’s NGSS hub.

1. Patterns

  • Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.

2. Cause and Effect

  • Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. Deciphering causal relationships, and the mechanisms by which they are mediated, is a major activity of science and engineering.

3. Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

  • In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different size, time, and energy scales, and to recognize proportional relationships between different quantities as scales change.

4. Systems and System Models

  • A system is an organized group of related objects or components; models can be used for understanding and predicting the behavior of systems.

5. Energy and Matter

  • Tracking energy and matter flows, into, out of, and within systems helps one understand their system’s behavior.

6. Structure and Function

  • The way an object is shaped or structured determines many of its properties and functions.

7. Stability and Change

  • For both designed and natural systems, conditions that affect stability and factors that control rates of change are critical elements to consider and understand.