Published In

Frontiers in Education

Document Type


Publication Date



Science teachers -- Pedagogy


Infusing systems thinking activities in pre-college education (grades K-12) means updating precollege education so it includes a study of many systemic behavior patterns that are ubiquitous in the real world. Systems thinking tools include those using both paper and pencil and the computer and enhance learning in the classroom making it more student-centered, more active, and allowing students to analyze problems that have been heretofore beyond the scope of K-12 classrooms. Students in primary school have used behavior over time graphs to demonstrate dynamics described in story books, like the Lorax, and created stock-flow diagrams to describe what was needed to make a garden flourish. Middle school students have created larger stockflow diagrams to study how composting helps to reduce pollution and have created small simulations to study population dynamics and the spread of epidemics. High school students have created/used numerous computer models to study systemic problems in mathematics, physical science, physics, biology, environmental science, global studies, and history. Some high schools developed modeling courses allowing students to create System Dynamics computer models to study problems of their choice, write technical papers explaining their models, and present their models and model results to an audience. This paper contains explanations of some of the systems thinking lessons that have been used with precollege students, some for just 5–6 years (especially the primary and middle school examples), others (especially the mathematics and system dynamics model courses for high school students) for decades.


© 2023 Fisher and the Systems Thinking Association. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Locate the Document




Persistent Identifier