Empower Your Students: Give Them the Keys to Science and Engineering with the Crosscutting (Key) Concepts

The seven crosscutting concepts in the NGSS deepen our students’ understanding of the disciplinary core ideas and help develop their scientific literacy by uniting the core ideas throughout the fields of science and engineering.

To help make the crosscutting concepts (and therefore the disciplinary core ideas and practices) more accessible to her students, one teacher in Kansas, Dr. Robin Wooten, created these infographics to model the crosscutting concepts as the “keys to unlocking the mysteries of the universe” (Download your own copies below).


Dr. Wooten states:

“As science teachers well know, the importance of the crosscutting concepts is not merely that they apply across the domains of science and engineering, but that, because they “address the fundamental aspects of nature, they also inform the way humans attempt to understand it." 

 Consequently, the crosscutting concepts (CCCs) are recognized not only as KEY concepts in their own right but also as KEY intellectual tools for students, like the scientists and engineers before them, to use in understanding phenomena scientifically.

 Modeling these concepts as KEYS and, therefore, invoking a common experience of the use of a key as a tool highlights to students of all levels the most empowering aspect of the CCCs – that students are not on their own to make sense of complicated aspects of nature but they have a set of tools at their disposal to use in this sense making of individual phenomena as well as to make connections between phenomena and ultimately organize their knowledge into a coherent whole, i.e. to unlock the mysteries of universe (nature).”

Dr. Wooten plans on using the infographics as posters to refer to during lessons. The individual CCCs models will be a place for students to develop and reinforce their understanding of each CCC. Her students will draw their own icon to exemplify the concept, describe the CCC in their own words, and sketch and label models of the many applications of the CCC towards understanding the disciplinary core ideas and science and engineering practices throughout the year. Students may also use these to make posters for classroom display to highlight a CCC.

Dr. Wooten has generously provided these “Keys” as templates under the Creative Commons copyright Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike  CC BY-NC-SA so you are free to use, tweak, and share for non-commercial purposes.

 We hope you find them helpful in your own classroom!



50% Complete

Are you in?

Our Spring 5 day challenge kicks off March 24th. More details coming soon...In the meantime, join our Facebook community and let us know your NGSS professional development needs.

(We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe.)