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Crosscutting Concepts

Crosscutting Concept 1: Patterns
Crosscutting Concept 2: Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation
Crosscutting Concept 3: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
Crosscutting Concept 4: Systems and System Models
Crosscutting Concept 5: Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles, and Conservation
Crosscutting Concept 6: Structure and Function
Crosscutting Concept 7: Stability and Chance

According to the National Research Council’s Framework for K–12 Science Education, crosscutting concepts bridge the boundaries of science and engineering domains. These concepts provide students with an organizational framework for understanding and connecting scientific and engineering knowledge across disciplines and school years. The Framework suggests that these crosscutting concepts be explicitly taught and used in classroom instruction to organize teaching and learning in science and engineering.


In Exploring Our Fluid Earth, crosscutting concepts are aligned with Special Features, Activities, or Question Sets. Crosscutting concepts are also embedded in Performance Expectations, which are aligned at the topic level.


For example, this curriculum addresses the crosscutting concept Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation through the activity Density Bags (Fig. 2.12).


Image caption

Fig. 2.12. The relative density of the liquid in the bag compared to the liquid in the beaker can be determined by observing whether the bag sinks or floats.

Image copyright and source

Image by Byron Inouye

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.