Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts


The seven cross-cutting concepts (listed below) are key across science and engineering. They provide students with ways to connect knowledge from the various disciplines into a coherent and scientific view of the world. For example, the concept of "cause and effect: mechanism and explanation" includes the key understandings that events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted; that a major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated; and that such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.

Students' understanding of these crosscutting concepts should be reinforced by their repeated use in instruction across the disciplinary core ideas (see Dimension 3). For example, the concept of "cause and effect" could be discussed in the context of plant growth in a biology class and in the context of investigating the motion of objects in a physics class. Throughout their science and engineering education, students should be taught the crosscutting concepts in ways that illustrate their applicability across all the disciplines.

(This short excerpt is from A Framework for K-12 Science Standards: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas Report Brief)

Short Introduction to Dimension 2 Classroom teacher Paul Anderson gives a short video overview of each Crosscutting Concept.

NSTA has archived webinars on the crosscutting concepts. Please click on the concepts below to access NSTA's webpage (the webinar for some of the concepts has not occured yet).

1. Patterns

2. Cause and effect: mechanism and explanation

3. Scale, proportion, and quantity

4. Systems and system models

5. Energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conservation

6. Structure and function

7. Stability and change