Learning about the Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) component of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) helps students model the ways scientists think and conduct their research.
But they can also be quite abstract. How to introduce these concepts to young students? K-12 science specialist Peter A’hearn has some ideas.
“To get [students] thinking about structure and function [CCC number 6] in living things we started by having them draw a picture of what they thought a fish looks like, “ A’hearn says. Noting that people have preconceived ideas that tend toward caricature, he says “it’s helpful to give them a chance to draw that cartoon before having them observe the real thing and compare it to their drawing.”
After each student draws the fish that’s in her mind, you can provide each with a live goldfish in a clear cup of water and ask the class to compare what they see with their drawing.
This sets the stage for introduction of the concept of structure and function. Pointing out that structure is the part of the body and function is the job the part does, the teacher can ask students what their own nose is for and extend the inquiry to the fishes’ structure.
Other critical questions for structure and function:
How does the function depend on the structure?
How does the structure support the function?
Are there other structures that can serve the same function?
How does this relationship between structure and function compare to others that I have learned about?
See more details on how to conduct this exercise in A’hearn’s article by clicking here.
Below are two examples of CCC icons from A’hearn’s Crosscut Symbols site.