This multimedia collection includes classroom‑ready resources for all grade levels, a self‑paced module for high school students, and a professional development module for educators. Each of the modules lists the relevant Next Generation Science Standards.

Objectives

  • Understand that a system is composed of parts and processes that interact over time to serve some purpose or function.
  • Learn that systems as a whole can exhibit properties and behaviors that are different from those of their parts.
  • Learn that simple systems can work in predictable ways; dynamic systems exhibit more complex and unpredictable behaviors.
  • Make systems visible using a variety of tools that can help us understand systems in science, engineering, history, literature, and more.
  • Construct a simplified model of a system by defining a boundary in which it operates to better understand and predict system behaviors.
  • Learn how change occurs through closed loops of cause and effect called feedback loops of which there are two types—reinforcing or balancing.

Systems thinking is essential to because living beings are composed of systems and are part of bigger systems. So too are the products and systems that humans create. Understanding those relationships allows for deeper and more environmentally sustainable designs. This online collection from PBS LearningMedia features videos and interactive lessons helping students at all grade levels better understand the systems in their environment and how to use systems literacy tools in science and in other domains.

The professional development module, Teaching About Systems, is the best place to start. It provides a basic understanding of systems and familiarizes the educator with the rest of the content. The modules include short videos, teaching tips, activities, handouts, and interactive games for even the youngest students.