teaching systems science

why teach systems and models?

The world is complicated and can seem confusing. So many details can bewilder all of us. However, scientific thinking tells us that complicated situations can usually be simplified. Complex things can be understood when seen as systems. Models make them manageable. This is the power of systems science and scientific inquiry.

what are systems and models?

Systems are simple. They are any object or thing, small & simple or complicated.

Everything can be regarded as a system.

Once a system is defined, it can be simplified by making a model of the system. Modeling makes complex things simple.

why does knowing about systems help us learn?

The human brain works by searching for patterns in the world. Patterns are best described as systems, and patterns are found throughout nature. Brains have evolved to detect patterns, so using systems analysis to explore nature is a critical approach that can come quite naturally. The brain turns those patterns into simple internal models of the world. Systems and models are the internal languages of the human brain.

The SymmetryLearning method of teaching is simple yet powerful because it uses the Language of Patterns to teach critical thinking skills in a brain-consistent manner. Learning the Language of Patterns begins in the first lesson of the Entry Level Let’s Learn with Science Curriculum.

mary and marty


Below is an introduction to the Tools and Constructs embedded in our neuroscience-based curriculum. You will learn about Systems, Models, the Progression of Inquiry, and the Language of Patterns as you work through the lessons with your child. Prior knowledge and expertise are not needed to be successful.

what we teach

  • Watch the Video

  • Systems and Models

    Systems analysis identifies the:

    • “Background” of the system and question

    • The “elements” contained within the system

    • The "rules" of the interactions within the system

    • The "properties" emergent from the system

    • Models are:

      • A simplification of the complete system
  • The Progression of Inquiry

    • Shows how knowledge is acquired

    • Is a process of sequential model-making that proceeds from:
        •Descriptions of observation
        •Explanations of the observed system
        •Development of an experimental model to verify

how we teach it

  • Watch the Video

  • The Language of Patterns

    • Pattern recognition and description is foundational to all learning and is the basis of systems thinking

    • Patterns are best described as systems

    • Brains have evolved to detect patterns and learn by pattern recognition

    • This method of learning is simple, yet powerful enough to advance understanding in astrophysics, earth science, medicine, electronics, economics, and even playing checkers!

why we teach it this way

  • Watch the Video

  • The Cycle of Pedagogy

    • The framework of SymmetryLearning

    • Describes how the brain develops and refines models of knowledge from naive to expert

    • Ties the child’s developing brain to the system of knowledge through which science and all other subject matter are learned

    • What and how the brain can learn and create models at different ages depends very much on its biological maturity, which generally correlates with chronological age

  • The Cybernetic Sequence

    • Provides a neurobiologically-based foundation for understanding the brain’s sequential stages of information processing to achieve the state of “learning”

    • Based on our collective understanding of brain function

    • A construct conceived by Dr. Bergethon (curriculum designer) and Dr. Woodcock (colleague)
  • The Assessment Framework Design Method

    • Provides a coherent approach to curriculum development

    • A logical approach to identifying the objectives and the types of learning assessment in a quantifiable manner

    • Based on best cognitive neuroscience practices

    • Embodies the Cycle of Pedagogy