Some students’ ideas of day and night are based on the Earth staying static with regards to the Sun but rotate once on its axis for a day/night cycle

Earth and Space


Diagnostic Resources

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

  • What's moving: day and night  (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS03 PN02

    One place where it's hard to imagine movement is that our entire planet is moving. On the simplest description the Earth itself is spinning, as well as orbiting around the Sun. Both are nearly spherical, and Earth is really, really smooth (really smoother than a billiard ball, if scaled down).

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  • Explaining day and night (11-14)

    Ref - SPT ES04 TA05

    Scientists represent their ideas using words, diagrams, symbols, charts and mathematics. The aim of this activity is to encourage children to translate knowledge represented by a diagram into words. Translating between different forms helps to develop understanding.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Jones, L. B., Lynch, P. P. & Reesink, C., () Children's conceptions of the earth, sun and moon, International Journal of Science Education,

    Review sheet

  • 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)


    Review sheet

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