Cause and Effect is one of the most versatile Crosscutting Concepts. Use it with any of the Science and Engineering Practices. Let’s discuss what the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect looks like in the Upper Elementary Science classroom and beyond.
What does the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect look like in elementary science?
In early elementary, students identify simple cause and effect relationships and look for patterns. These patterns help students to predict likely outcomes.
Later, in upper elementary students aren’t just identifying the relationships, but testing them. Students use these relationships to explain changes that are observed.
Finally, students in upper elementary begin to explain the idea of causation vs correlation. They explore the idea that events that happen at the same time may not have a cause and effect relationship.
How does the Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect relate to the Science and Engineering Practices?
This Crosscutting Concept can be use with any of the Science and Engineering Practices. However, it is most closely related to two.
Cause and Effect and Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Cause and effect relationships are at the center of any investigation. Students in upper elementary should design experiments to investigate what happens (effect) when a variable is changed (cause). For example, in the performance expectation 3-PS2-1, students plan an investigation to determine the effects of an unbalanced force.
Cause and Effect and Engaging in an Argument Using Evidence
Students in upper elementary also use this concept when Engaging in an Argument Using Evidence. For example in 3-LS2-1, students will need to make the argument that living in a group (cause) helps animals to survive (effect).
Help make connections to the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect.
Scaffolds help students make connections to the Crosscutting Concepts. Using graphic organizers is my favorite favorite scaffold.
I created set of graphic organizers to make these connections explicit. Also, these graphic organizers include a reference sheet which explains the Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect. There is a PDF version that is great for interactive notebooks AND a Google Slides™ version for online learning.
Click here to see the Cause and Effect Graphic Organizers and Reference Sheets for Upper Elementary.
Get more information bout NGSS Cause and Effect in elementary school.
To learn more about this Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect, check out the resources below.
- Appendix G of the K-12 Framework for Science Education
- The NGSS Standards for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades
- Why do we need the Crosscutting Concepts? – Nicole Van Tassel, iExploreScience.com
- Crosscutting Concept Graphic Organizer and Reference Sheet for Cause and Effect