Earth and Space

Does the Earth move?

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

This is a discussion activity to explore the relationship between ideas and evidence in the context of the motion of the Earth.

What to Prepare

  • Printed copies of support sheet: Spinning Earth (see below)

What Happens During this Activity

Tell the pupils that some ideas, like the explanation for day and night, seem reasonably straightforward. But how do we know that it is the spinning motion of the Earth which causes day and night? How else could day and night be explained? What evidence is there to support either idea?

  • Arrange the pupils in groups of four.
  • Give the groups both sets of arguments on the sheet.
  • Tell half the groups that their task is to prepare arguments against the points in the case for a stationary Earth and vice versa. This means they must attempt to justify why the points in the other's case must be wrong.
  • Give them 10 minutes to develop their case.
  • Now take an argument for the spinning Earth from one group, then take an argument against. Follow with an argument for a stationary Earth with an argument against that point from another group. Continue till you think the activity has been exhausted.
  • Finally point out that not all evidence is equally important. Ask either the class or the small groups to decide which is the most convincing piece of evidence.


Download the support sheet/student worksheet for this activity.

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