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Form / Function

Form and Function is one of the NSES' Unifying Concepts and Processes (p. 119) that lost its place in the Content Standards (it was supposed to appear in the Life Science's Content Standards but did not). Used together, this pair of ideas can describe living and inanimate objects, systems, and organisms in nature and the designed world. In design, the Function of a product is captured in the Design Brief that gives product specifications of how the designed object must perform. The Design Brief talks less about a product's Form -- its structure and how it is put together. With a design challenge, this is for the designer to decide.

The Standards suggest that the notion of Form and Function be part of Assessing Explanations that students give, either for nature's design or their designs. Form and Function is a cross-cutting topic that life science teachers can link to systems studied in physical science, and vice versa. They are key topics students can include when writing a Product History, when Inferring Specifications of a design, or when giving final presentations that are part of Authentic Assessment.

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