# NGSS Connections

In this section, we first explain the synergy between this MDP and the eight science and engineering practices, then provide examples, options, and variations of activities and instructional strategies that are aligned with this MDP for each science and engineering practice. However, this does not mean that teachers must use all of these strategies to enact this MDP when promoting the science and engineering practice, nor that these strategies are the only way to do so. We encourage teachers to use their professional discretion to select what will work best for them and their classrooms, and to modify and innovate on these strategies.Asking questions and defining problems drives science and engineering. Instructional strategies aligned with the Relevance MDP can help teachers identify phenomena and design tasks for students to ask questions about and define problems that are aligned with student interest and values. Strategies can also help students to see the value in a phenomenon or design problem they might not otherwise value and/or to realize that their current understanding cannot adequately explain the how and why of a phenomenon or design problem. Students will be more engaged when they find relevance connections that relate to their everyday lives, to their future educational or career aspirations, or that allow them to more fully explain an intriguing phenomenon in the questions they are answering and in the problems they are defining. This engagement helps to sustain student interest as they engage in other practices to answer questions and find problem solutions. Students will also engage more in asking each other questions when they see the phenomenon or design problem as relevant.

## Strategies

- With phenomena, design problems, and/or materials that may be unfamiliar to students, provide time for students to explore them so that they can become familiar with them and be prepared to ask personally meaningful questions about them
- For more familiar phenomena and design problems, provide time for students to generate scientific questions or define problems that are of specific interest to them; recognize all initial questions or problems, offer feedback to improve questions to be more scientific or problems to relate to engineering design, and have the class work to discuss one or a few of them (similar to a Driving Question Board). In some instances students may think they understand a familiar phenomenon or know how to solve a design problem. Validate students’ existing knowledge while asking probing questions to push students to think more deeply about the phenomenon or design problem to help them realize that there is need for further investigation to truly understand the phenomenon or solve the problem
- Use a Driving Question Board: encourage students to ask scientific questions inherently interesting to them. At the end of the unit, address questions that students still want answered

Developing and using models requires students to grasp the key features of the phenomenon or design problem under investigation, a potentially challenging task for students. When students see relevance in the models they are developing and using, they are more likely to put effort into the task. Seeing that models are useful for making sense of a phenomenon or solving a design problem that relates to their everyday interests and/or experiences gives students a compelling reason to engage in future model making. This motivation can be especially important for students who identify with communities that have been marginalized or disenfranchised in science, as it empowers them to use scientific modeling as a tool for understanding phenomena or solving problems related to issues they care about [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity].

## Strategies

Planning and carrying out investigations requires students to organize themselves and then use knowledge and skills to make sense of phenomena or solve design problems. When students see relevance in the investigations they are planning and carrying out, they are more likely to put effort into designing and organizing their plan, enacting it, and persisting through the completion of the investigation. Seeing that investigations are useful to and doable by students gives students more reasons to engage in future investigations. This motivation can be especially important for students who identify with communities that have been marginalized or disenfranchised in science, as it empowers them to plan and carry out investigations related to issues they care about [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity].

## Strategies

Some students may have lower confidence in their ability to tabulate, graph, or perform statistical analyses on data or may even think they are not a “math person.” Framing data analysis within a phenomenon or design problem that is of interest to students may help motivate them to work hard on the mathematics needed for data analysis. Connecting the practice of analyzing and interpreting data to the work of scientists and engineers may help encourage students to see the value of math as a tool to make sense of the world. Encouraging students to connect data analysis and interpretation to a broad range of situations that relate to their lives and home communities can make them more invested in the practice as something that can be leveraged to figure out phenomena or solve problems that feel relevant and important to them [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity].

## Strategies

Mathematics and computational thinking are an integral part of science and engineering. Framing the use of mathematics and application of computational thinking within a phenomenon or design problem that is of interest to students may help motivate them to work hard on tasks involving these skills. Encouraging students to connect mathematics and computational thinking to a broad range of situations that relate to their lives and home communities can make them more invested in the practice as something that can be leveraged to figure out phenomena or solve problems that feel relevant and important to them [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity]. Many students may be unfamiliar with or lack confidence in using mathematics to represent and relate physical variables and to make predictions, and in using computational thinking. Connecting the practice of using mathematics and computational thinking to the work of scientists and engineers in understanding phenomena or solving problems of interest may help encourage students to engage in this type of work despite their unfamiliarity or lack of confidence.

## Strategies

- Relate software programs to the work that contemporary scientists and engineers do (i.e., they log their data and share results in their teams through digital platforms)
- Introduce the connection between software programs used in class and other programs used for coding (and the cool things coders do!)

Constructing explanations and designing solutions rely upon students' abilities to make claims and use evidence and reasoning to make sense of phenomena or solve real world problems. It is important for students to formulate explanations and develop solutions related to specific contexts or communities. When classroom lessons and investigations center on interesting and community-related problems or phenomena, students understand that designing solutions to problems and constructing explanations for the causes of phenomena are relevant to their lives. Students are more likely to be cognitively engaged in designing a solution or constructing an explanation for something which has a relevant personal connection (e.g., it is important, interesting, or familiar to them). This motivation can be especially important for students who identify with communities that have been marginalized or disenfranchised in science, as it empowers them to use the science and engineering practice as a tool for understanding phenomena or solving problems related to issues they care about [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity].

## Strategies

- How does this help us answer our overarching question: _____________?
- How does this connect to the big ideas we have been learning about in science?
- How can we use our science knowledge to help explain _______________?
- How can we use our model to support or refute these explanations?

Argumentation will be most successful in the classroom if students see the relevance of what they are arguing to their own lives. Supports for relevance help teachers to frame arguments within students’ interests, show students the value in a topic they might not otherwise value, and encourage students to connect and apply argumentation skills to understanding phenomena and designing solutions to problems that affect their lives. These relevance connections can be especially important for students who identify with communities that have been marginalized or disenfranchised in science, as it empowers them to apply scientific argumentation to issues that matter to them and their communities [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity]. Additionally, students may already engage in argumentation without consistently using evidence. Seeing that using evidence is an integral part of argumentation for scientists and engineers to achieve key goals (e.g., to find the most thoughtful designs, appropriate analytic techniques, reasonable interpretations, and best solutions to new problems) may encourage students to use evidence more consistently in their arguments.

## Strategies

Science and engineering text and other media can make demands on students that other types of text and media do not (e.g., more technical language, complex figures to interpret, etc.). Supports for relevance help teachers embed obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information within students’ interests and help students see the value in a topic they might not otherwise value. Students will likely be more cognitively engaged in obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information about a phenomenon or design problem that has a clearly relevant personal connection (e.g., it is important, interesting, or familiar to them). These relevance connections can be especially important for students who identify with communities that have been marginalized or disenfranchised in science, as it empowers them to seek out, evaluate, and communicate scientific information about issues that matter to them and their communities [see Motivation as a Tool for Equity].

## Strategies

- Where would they learn about the phenomenon/problem?
- How would they evaluate credibility of the information obtained?
- Who would they partner with in the community to research the phenomenon or explore solutions, and where/how would they communicate their findings/solutions?