Most students think that it is cold in the winter because the Sun is further away from the Earth
Likewise, it is warmer in the summer because the Earth is closest to the Sun at that time. Of course, students don’t take into account the idea of summer occurring in other parts of the world during winter.
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
Why is it hotter in the summer than the winter? (11-14)
Ref - ES04 TL05
By far the most common response to explaining the seasons is in terms of distance from the Sun. This is based on the common-sense reasoning that if you go closer to a glowing source, then you become warmer.
Unfortunately it's on the wrong track! This resource explains why.View Resource
The following studies have documented this misconception:
- Illari, L. et al., () Exploiting Laboratory Experiments in the Teaching of Meteorology, Oceanography, and Climate, American Meteorological Society.
- Trumper, R., () A cross-age study of junior high school students'conceptions of basic astronomy concepts, International Journal of Science Education, 23 (11)
- Philips, W., () Earth science misconceptions, The Science Teacher,
- Cox, M., Steegen, A., and De Cock, M., () How Aware Are Teachers of Students’ Misconceptions in Astronomy? A Qualitative Analysis in Belgium, Science Education International, 27 (2)
- Dunlop, J., () How children observe the universe, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, 200 (17)
- Barrier, R. M., () Astronomical Misconceptions, The Physics Teacher, 48,
- Bogina, M.R. and Roberts, B.R. () The Use of Haiku and Portfolio Entry to Teach the Change of Seasons, Journal of Geoscience Education, 53 (5)
- Sarioğlan, A. B. and Küçüközer, H., () From Elementary to University Students' Ideas About Causes of the Seasons, Journal of Turkish science education, DOI: 10.12973/tused.10137a.
- Galano, S. et al., () Developing the use of visual representations to explain basic astronomy phenomena, Physical review physics education research, 14 (1):010145.
- Lee, V. R., () How Different Variants of Orbit Diagrams Inﬂuence Student Explanations of the Seasons, Science Education, 94,
- G. Sharp, J., () Children's astronomical beliefs: a preliminary study of Year 6 children in south‐west England, International Journal of Science Education, 18 (6)
- Slater, E. V., Morris, J. E., & McKinnon, D., () Astronomy alternative conceptions in preadolescent students in Western Australia, International Journal of Science Education, 40 (17)
- Baxter, J., () Children's understanding of familiar astronomical events, International Journal of Science Education, 11 (5)