Systems and System Models for NGSS

November 8, 2020 No Comments

The Crosscutting Concepts of Systems and System Models is quickly becoming one of my favorites to use in my NGSS aligned middle school classes. I use this practice regularly in my classroom to help students understand the scope of what we are studying in class. Also, this concept works well with many Science and Engineering practices and other Crosscutting Concepts.

What is a system and a system model?

A quick search about Systems and System models is likely leave you with more questions than answers. Read the information below to get answers to frequently asked questions about Systems and System Models.

What is a system according to the NGSS?

The purpose of science is to make sense of the universe. But, the universe is too vast to study in its entirety. Instead, scientists focus on smaller pieces of the universe to study.

A system is just the part of the universe that we are choosing to study.  Systems come in all shapes and sizes.  For example, we can choose to study our entire solar system or the nervous system.  A system could be a frog or a single cell. 

The system that is being studied is dependent on the phenomenon that you are using for your lessons.

What are natural and designed systems?

Natural systems are systems that we see in the natural world. These systems are things like planet, ecosystems, and cells. In contrast, designed systems are human-created. For example, aqueducts and bicycles are examples of designed systems.

What are components of a system?

Components make up systems. They are essentially pieces of the system. For example, the components of the bicycle include the wheels, frame, seat, chain and pedals.

What is an NGSS model?

Models are simplified versions of the system that scientists construct in order to make sense of the system.  Models allow scientists to share their ideas, explain phenomena, make predictions and so much more. To learn more about the Science and Engineering Practice of Developing and Using Models, read this post.

Models do not include all of the components of a system. Instead, they include components of the system that are being studied. Therefore, all models have limitations.

More about Systems and System Models and the NGSS

What questions do you have about the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models?

Erin Sadler

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