What are Phenomena? Phenomena are observable events that occur in the world.

Serving as the context for both scientists and engineers in their work, phenomena are predicted through scientific knowledge, which is then used to create solutions to real-world problems.

Centering STEM education on phenomena elevates student comprehension beyond memorizing concepts to understanding how and why things happen in the world around them.

Using the three dimensions of NGSS, students engage in the inquiry, explanation, and application of phenomena within the classroom —similarly to how scientists and engineers approach problem solving in the real-world today.


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Types of Phenomena Within STEMscopes NGSS 3D


Anchoring Phenomena

Found in each bundle, anchoring phenomena tie the bundle’s scopes together with a central question and coherent mission that students get to solve progressively as they learn the content through each scope activity.

  • Addressed through the mission log and mission action plan in each bundle.
  • Provide coherence to all the scopes under the bundle.
  • Complex: require use of the knowledge and practices of all 3 dimensions, learned across the bundle‘s scopes.
  • Use STEMscopes lesson activities to provide observable evidence of learning across the bundle.

Example: The Sun’s fundamental role in powering different types of renewable energy (e.g., wind).

Investigative Phenomena

Kicking off each scope, investigative phenomena drive a scope’s 5E activities and culminate in a claim-evidence-reasoning assessment. Together, the investigative phenomena inform the anchoring phenomena.

  • Coherently tie the scope‘s 5E + intervention and acceleration elements together.
  • Integral to the scope‘s lab activities, literacy elements, and differentiation resources.
  • Culminates in an end-of-scope claim-evidence-reasoning assessment.

Example: How can wind energy become electricity to light your home?

Everyday Phenomena

Found in all lesson activities and enriched by your students’ real-world experiences, everyday phenomena tie the scope activities to your students’ everyday lives. Each everyday phenomena provide context to the investigative phenomena.

  • Connect scope content to student background knowledge, everyday observations, and personal interests.
  • Solicited by the teacher and can be used to guide / modify bundles to maximize engagement.

Example: How does current flow through a circuit when I turn on a switch?

Best Practices with Phenomena Understanding how to use phenomena effectively in the classroom.


Using Phenomena is... Using Phenomena is not...
Authentically engaging; measured by student inquiry Flashy or purely digital
Specific examples of real-world events (experienceable) Explanations using scientific terminology of a process
Used to drive lessons, connect lesson parts, unify bundle Just used to engage
Student-driven; social, culturally, and temporally engaging Teacher-driven
The context for the content; used before explanation Used after students develop science ideas
Observable and applied through inquiry and engineering Just questions

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