Systems and System Models for Middle School

November 15, 2020 No Comments

Systems and System models is one of my favorite Crosscutting Concepts to connect to in my middle school science class. This Crosscutting Concept helps students understand what is within the learning scope. It also helps to provide some structure for students models.

What is the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models?

The Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System models helps students to identify the components of the system being studied. Students look at the way that the components of the system interact and help the overall function of the system. They will also look at how energy, matter and information flows through a system. Finally, students must also identify inputs and outputs.

To learn more about the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System models, read this blog post.

What does the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models look like in middle school?

Before discussing what this concept might look like in middle school, it is important to consider what this concept looks like in the upper elementary grade band. However, your student might not have access to NGSS Aligned science courses before middle school. Often, that means I need to take a step back before introducing a crosscutting concept at the current grade level band.

The Upper Elementary Grade Band

In the upper elementary grade band, the focus is really on the components of the system. Systems are made of components, or parts. In this grade band, students must list the parts of the system. Also, they discuss how the components interact.

From my experience, most of my middle school students are not familiar with the term component. So, it is best to spend some time identifying the components of familiar systems prior to applying this concept to classroom content.

What does the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models look like in middle school?

Students in middle school are moving beyond identifying the components of the system and discussing how the components of the system help the system itself to function. Middle school students should also consider the idea that the systems that they are studying may also be sub-systems of a larger and more complex system.

Also, middle school student must consider the inputs and outputs of a system. Finally, they must identify how matter and/or energy flow within the system.

Middle School Examples of Systems and System Models

The Crosscutting Concept of Systems and Systems and System models is associated with the following performance expectations:

In this graphic organizers, students developed a model of a roller coaster. Also, they identified changes in energy in the system as discussed in MS-PS3-2.

This graphic organizer was used as a formative assessment. Students demonstrated their understanding of the phenomenon that was introduced in class.

You should address the performance exceptions directly connected to the concept of systems and system models. However, you can also use this Crosscutting Concept in your classroom any time that you can make a connection.

For example, in this picture, I used a digital graphic organizer to help students relate this concept to the Earth-Moon-Sun system . So, students identified the components of the systems as well as inputs and outputs. In this case, we focused on energy within the system.

This graphic organizer is as a Google™ Slide or a printable PDF file. It can be used over and over again to relate your content to this Crosscutting Concept. Also, it includes a reference sheet that explains the Crosscutting Concepts of Systems and System models to your students. To purchase this graphic organizer, click here.

This graphic organizer is as a Google™ Slide or a printable PDF file. It can be used over and over again to relate your content to this Crosscutting Concept. Also, it includes a reference sheet that explains the Crosscutting Concepts of Systems and System models to your students.

To purchase this graphic organizer, click here.

More Information About Systems and System Models

Erin Sadler

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