Examples of Simple Phenomena for NGSS

January 4, 2019 2 Comments

It is vital that we use phenomena to drive lessons in an NGSS aligned classroom and engage your learners.  Here are a few examples of simple phenomena for your NGSS aligned class.

What are the simple phenomena?

Too often, teachers use overly complicated phenomena when they are getting started with the NGSS.  I like to focus on simplicity and try to choose examples that are applicable to the student’s everyday lives.

Still, you don’t want them to be too simple.  Students should not be able to quickly explain the phenomenon.  There is a sweet spot between highly complicated phenomena and phenomena that are too simple.

What are some examples of good, simple NGSS phenomena?

  • Patterns in the sky.  I created these journals for use in my 8th grade integrated science classroom.  Students logged the pathway of the sun and wrote down the shape of the moon for 4 weeks.  We used these observations as phenomena for our solar system unit.  (This product is available on my TPT Store.)   These observations are excellent examples of NGSSS phenomena because they are observations that students make in their day-to-day lives.  Check out how many requirements this activity fulfills from the evidence statement for MS-ESS1-1.

Solar Lunar Journal

  • Cement slide and cardboard: There is a local park in our area that is made of cement.  During the summer, the slide is littered with cardboard pieces.  Kids spend hours sifting through these discarded pieces in order to find the perfect piece to use to help them go down the slide.  Why?  The cardboard reduces friction.  Students could use this phenomenon to the disciplinary core idea PS2.A: Forces and Motion. 

This cement slide is too rough to go down without cardboard to reduce friction.

    • Ant Takeover: One time ants took over my kitchen.  It was an unpleasant experience but definitely a relatable one.  This might be a great way to introduce animal behavior (MS-LS1-4) to your students.   Ants are annoying, but also absolutely fascinating.  This is a great example of NGSS phenomena because it is sure to generate many student questions.

Kitchen Ants are a great phenomenon.

Want to learn more?

What are your favorite examples of NGSS phenomena?  Comment below.

Erin Sadler

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  • Tara Austin July 17, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Finding phenomena is an area of struggle for me. I was trying to find an anchoring phenomena for my “patterns in the sky” segment, and I think your idea of a solar/lunar journal is a great idea! Side note….I have scouted a local cement slide to try out now, too!
    Thank you!

  • Erin Sadler July 17, 2019 at 9:59 am

    I don’t remember what grade level you are in, but when my daughter was in first grade I wrote a lesson for her where she went outside a few times during a day and I traced her shadow with chalk. The next day, we went out at the same time and looked at the chalk to see that they basically lined up.

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