Reflection: Complex Tasks Designing and Constructing Marshmallow Catapults to Deepen Understanding of Energy - Section 2: Researching the Problem


I have developed a deep appreciation for using Crosscutting Concepts in my classes over the past several months. In particular, how structure and function can be used to bridge understanding between various STEM topics. In this case, common construction parts were used to make connections to the improved function of their catapults, resulting in a deeper conceptual understanding of structure and function.

Crosscutting Concepts are referred to as the 'unsung heroes' of the NGSS, because they intentionally link topics that would potentially be skipped otherwise. How many times have you ever had a lesson where you had a great conversation with your class--that time when you ditched the lesson plan and let the students discuss connections. You were incorporating Crosscutting Concepts! I bet if you went back to the conversation and then compared it to the list of CCCs, you would see that several of them were being incorporated.

Now that we are venturing into this world of integrated learning for deep conceptual understanding, we need to plan to incorporate specific moments when students are asked to specifically connect two topics together. As a result, students will see that they are learning topics for a reason and that everything--especially in science--relates to everything else.  Crosscutting Concepts make that a reality and should be celebrated as the 'unsung heroes!'

  Crosscutting Concepts to Deepen Understanding
  Complex Tasks: Crosscutting Concepts to Deepen Understanding
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Designing and Constructing Marshmallow Catapults to Deepen Understanding of Energy

Unit 5: Engineering
Lesson 5 of 11

Objective: SWBAT: Follow to the design steps to construct a catapult that can launch a marshmallow at least 5 meters and within .5 meters to either side of the target.

Big Idea: Engineering makes science content relevant and fun! Marshmallow catapults launch students into the wonderful world of engineering solutions.

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  55 minutes
481563 catapult
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