Some students explain the phases of the Moon being caused by the Sun casting a shadow on the Moon

Earth and Space


Resources to address this

  • Why does the Moon change? (11-14)

    This resource covers wrong-track explanations for the Moon phases. It does not directly cover the Sun casting a shadow, but the same approach could be used.

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  • The moon - our nearest neighbour (5-11)

    The reason for the shape of the Moon changing periodically, going through its different phases is tricky and widely misunderstood. This is not caused by the Moon being in the shadow of the Earth. It is caused by where the Moon is in relation to the Sun and the Earth and so how you see the Sunlight reflecting off the Moon. It really is best not to try to explain this to primary children.

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  • Baxter, J., () Children's understanding of familiar astronomical events, International Journal of Science Education, 11 (5) 502-513.

    Key paper digest

  • Galano, S., Colantonio, A., Leccia, S., Marzoli, I., Puddu, E. and Testa, I., () Developing the use of visual representations to explain basic astronomy phenomena, Physical review physics education research, 14 (1), 010-145.

    Key paper digest

  • Sharp, J. G., () Children's astronomical beliefs: a preliminary study of Year 6 children in south‐west England, International Journal of Science Education, 18 (6) 685-712.

    Key paper digest

  • Trumper, R., () A cross-age study of junior high school students conceptions of basic astronomy concepts, International Journal of Science Education, 23 (11) 1111- 1123.

    Key paper digest

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