Systems Thinking

Looking for an easy and effective way to deepen student thinking? 

If so, Aqua STEM curriculum units will help you meet your goal! All Aqua STEM units embed a framework for expanding student learning called Systems Thinking.  By employing four simple thinking patterns, students begin thinking deeper about a topic more quickly than during traditional instruction.  This proven method of instructional practice helps students make Distinctions, see whole-part Systems, uncover Relationships, understand Perspectives which enables them to develop a broader understanding of a topic.

Even better, Systems Thinking can be readily combined with the Three Dimensions of Science Instruction to help educators meet Arizona science standards.

Watch our teacher testimonial videos below to learn how Systems Thinking impacts student learning! 

Systems Thinking using DSRP


Arizona Project WET

Aqua STEM adopted a Systems Thinking approach to learning in 2016. This framework is grounded in the research of Derek Cabrera, a cognitive scientist from Cornell University, who created a way to map thinking so that teachers, students, and evaluators can see it and use it to deepen their thinking. This addition to APW’s instructional practice augments the constructivist approach by helping students to create a framework for understanding.

Dr. Cabrera’s theory of metacognition articulates the simple rules which govern all thought processes. Four simple thinking patterns, also known as DSRP, once learned and utilized, enables all learners to think deeper about any topic through a shared, learned inquiry process. 

Teacher Testimonials:

Crosscutting Concepts & DSRP


Crosscutting Concepts and DSRP
Arizona Project WET

Crosscutting Concepts Can Easily Be Integrated into DSRP.

For example, you can use DSRP to:

  • Examine Distinctions between Structure and Function
  • Look at Systems using Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
  • Make Relationships by examining Systems and Systems Models
  • Use different Perspectives to analyze Patterns
  • and much more!




Systems Thinking + Water = ThinkWater