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Crosscutting Concepts

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts (Framework) identifies seven crosscutting concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries, uniting core ideas throughout the fields of science and engineering. Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science; they are a way of linking the different domains of science. The Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students because they help them connect knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world. The following seven crosscutting concepts, adopted from the Framework and revised to align with Georgia’s standards, are introduced in Unit 2 of Chemistry Matters and are represented by symbolic icons on screen throughout the series.

Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.

Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.

Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.

In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.

For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.

The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.

Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.

NRC (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.