Below is an graphic of how the Science and Engineering Practices form a web and work together to help us make sense of science and engineering problems. This graphic is one of the tools found on the

It is important to teach students that there is not one single approach or order to the practices we use when figuring out science and engineering problems. Students may start with analyzing and interpreting data which may lead to asking questions and then to planning and carrying out an investigation. Or, students may begin with obtaining and evaluating information in order to develop a model which leads to asking questions about the some of the missing information in the model. One way to present this idea to students is by using the terminology "**Cascade of Practices**" as explained in this **STEM Teaching Tool Practice Brief #3.**

So how do we teach students to use these practices in a meaningful way? Especially if you are teaching this to them for the first time! One answer is through scaffolding. For example, you might provide a graphic organizer that **cascades the practices** for the students. Of course our goal is to teach students how to eventually choose the practices they need to use on their own, but they may need a little help along the way. Below is a graphic I use with middle school age students to develop an understanding of the engineering design process. I use the word **iterative** often and teach students that sometimes this process can be a bit messy. My advice is to have students use headings in their notebooks to help identify the order of the steps they used to solve the design problem. For elementary students, I might use this **graphic organizer** instead of engineering notebooks as a place to start with documenting the engineering design process.

You may notice that I have not explicitly called out the practices in the image above or in the graphic organizer, but students are still using them nonetheless. Below I have listed the practices that I find in my experience students use the most during each step.

**Step 1 Define the Problem**

SEP Asking Questions and Defining Problems

**Step 2: Brainstorm**

SEP Developing and Using Models

**Step 3: Research**

SEP Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

**Step 4: Develop Ideas**

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

**Step 5: Choose the Best Idea**

SEP Engaging in Argument from Evidence

**Step 6: Building Models and Prototypes**

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

**Step 7: Test and Improve**

SEP Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

SEP Analyzing and Interpreting Data

**Step 8: Make Improvements**

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

**Step 9 Communicate Results **

SEP Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

It is important that students recognize and understand how they are using the science and engineering practices during design challenges or throughout a unit of study to reinforce the idea that they are now actually thinking and acting like scientists and engineers.

I must end with this awesome video that can be found linked in STEM Teaching Tool #3 to reinforce the idea of how science really works. Enjoy!

SEP Asking Questions and Defining Problems

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

SEP Engaging in Argument from Evidence

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

SEP Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

SEP Analyzing and Interpreting Data

SEP Developing and Using Models

SEP Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

SEP Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

It is important that students recognize and understand how they are using the science and engineering practices during design challenges or throughout a unit of study to reinforce the idea that they are now actually thinking and acting like scientists and engineers.

I must end with this awesome video that can be found linked in STEM Teaching Tool #3 to reinforce the idea of how science really works. Enjoy!