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)

    It's hard to imagine that our entire planet is moving. In 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).

    View Resource
  • Explaining day and night (11-14)

    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


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

    Paper digest

  • 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) 685-712.

    Key paper digest

Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today