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Cause & Effect Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 What is Cause?
  • 0:56 What is Effect?
  • 1:29 Real-World Examples
  • 2:45 Examples in Scientific Texts
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Beth Mullikin

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Cause and effect are everywhere, including science. Come and learn about the definitions of cause and effect, as well as some examples within the real world and scientific texts.

What Is Cause?

Have you ever sat back and wondered about why something happens? Why is the sky blue? Why does my stomach hurt? The answers to these questions are specific reasons that led to the occurrence, also known as a cause. For example, your stomach can hurt due to a variety of different causes. Maybe you ate something bad. Maybe you are getting sick. Maybe you are nervous about something.

Scientists study causes all the time. There are many events that take place in the world with causes that generate observable patterns. Think about it - when it is hot outside, what tends to happen? You sweat, and plants shrivel up. These are patterns that are caused by heat.

What Is Effect?

So, if the cause is the 'why' then the effect is the 'what.' The effect is an event that happens because of a cause. If you have ever asked yourself a question that starts with, 'What will happen if I…', then you are questioning the effects of your actions. For example, 'What will happen if I choose not to brush my teeth?' Possible effects would be tooth decay, gum disease and the worst of all - stinky breath.

Real-World Examples

Cause and effect relationships are happening all around you. In science, these relationships are constantly being identified, examined and used to explain changes that occur in the world. For example:

Life Science

  • Winter time will cause bears to hibernate.
  • Your parents' genes will cause you to have a certain eye color.

Physical Science

  • A force causes a mass to accelerate.
  • The pushing and pulling of a magnet is caused by a magnetic force.

Earth Science

  • A mix of rain and sun can cause a rainbow.
  • The movement of plate tectonics can cause an earthquake.

Something important to know is that two events may be related, but may not have a direct cause and effect relationship. For example, people who eat a lot of fruit may be healthy. Eating fruit might be one cause for good health, but it's probably not be the only cause. Healthy people also probably drink a lot of water and exercise, and do not eat a lot of chocolate or fried food.

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