Crosscutting Concepts Front and Center:
The “Kitchen Organizers” for Understanding and Using Scientific Knowledge
The crosscutting concepts (CCCs) —previously labeled as "themes" or "unifying principles"—are the mental bins into which different pieces of information can be organized. As in your kitchen, you have a cupboard for plates (e.g., patterns), one for glasses (e.g., structure function), and a cutlery drawer (e.g., cause and effect).
In each of these bins you have a lot of different items which represent the performance expectations (PEs), science and engineering practices (SEPs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). These are like the knives, forks, and spoons in the cutlery drawer. You know that if you need something to eat your food with you look in the cutlery drawer. Similarly, if you are trying to understand the result of an event (e.g., what do plants need to grow?) you look in your “cause and effect drawer" (e.g., plants need water and sun to grow).