Few students still have the idea that the Earth is flat and round
The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.
For more information, see the University of York BEST website.
Resources to address this
The shape of the Earth (5-11)
Ref - SPT HS03 TL02
Children generally like to believe adults and so it is not uncommon for them to amalgamate their flat Earth model with adults' spherical Earth model. Here are some ways in which they retain a flat Earth model and still build in roundness.
Greek evidence for the Earth's shape and spin (11-15)
Ref - Practical Physics / Astronomy / Greek astronomy /Thales model of the Universe
Pythagoras' pupils, if not the great man himself, knew that the Earth is round. Traveller's tales of ships disappearing over the horizon and noticing bright stars, such as Polaris, shifting to a higher position in the sky as one journeyed north suggested a curved Earth.View Resource
The following studies have documented this misconception:
- Trumper, R., () A cross-age study of junior high school students' conceptions of basic astronomy concepts. International Journal of Science Education, 23 (11)
- Nussbaum, J., () Children’s Conceptions of the Earth as a Cosmic Body: A Cross Age Study. Science Education, 63,
- Nussbaum, J and Novak, J. D. () An Assessment of Children's Concepts of the Earth Utilizing Structured Interviews. Science Education, 60, (4)
- Phillips, W., () Earth science misconceptions. The Science Teacher,
- Sneider, C. and Pulos, S., () Children’s Cosmographies: Understanding the Earth’s Shape and Gravity. Science Education, 67 (2)
- Blown, E. J. and Bryce, T. G. K., () Thought-Experiments About Gravity in the History of Science and in Research into Children’s Thinking. Science and Education, 22
- Bryce, T. G. K. and Blown, E. J., () Children's Concepts of the Shape and Size of the Earth, Sun and Moon. International Journal of Science Education, 35 (3)
- Baxter, J., () Children's understanding of familiar astronomical events. International Journal of Science Education, 11 (5)
- Osborne, J., Wadsworth, P., Black, P. and Meadows, J., () The earth in space: Primary space project research report. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
- Vosniadou, S. and Brewer, W., () Mental Models of the Earth: A Study of Conceptual Change in Childhood. Cognitive Psychology.
- Straatemeier, M., Han, L. J., Maas, D. V., Jansen, J.R.B., () "Children’s knowledge of the earth: A new methodological and statistical approach. J. Exp. Child Psychol, 100
- Sharp, G. J., () Children's astronomical beliefs: a preliminary study of Year 6 children in south‐west England. International Journal of Science Education, 18 (6)