Some students may hold the belief that the Sun travels around the Earth

Earth and Space


This is what they appear to observe with the Sun moving across the sky and at night the Sun is on the other side of the Earth.


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

  • Day and night: what we know and how we know  (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS03 PN04

    The cycle of day and night is caused by the rotation of the Earth as it spins on it axis once every 24 hours. Because of this spinning motion, the Sun appears to move through the sky but in reality it is the Earth that does the moving.

    This effect is like being on a train when the train next to you starts moving. Often you think you are moving only to realise, when you look out of the other window, that it is the other train that is pulling away.

    View Resource
  • The solar system: what do we know?  )11-14)

    Ref - SPT ES03 PN01

    This is a summary of what we know about the solar system.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Pine, K., Messer, D. & St. John, K., () Children's Misconceptions in Primary Science: A Survey of teachers' views, Research in Science & Technological Education, 19, (1)


    Review sheet

  • Osborne, J., Wadsworth, P., Black, P. and Meadows, J., () The earth in space: Primary space project research report, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

    Review sheet

  • 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)


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