Some students say the Earth is a sphere and we live on the outside of the sphere with people living all over the sphere

Earth and Space


In this model, 'down' is towards the surface of the sphere, rather than towards the centre.

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

  • The shape of the Earth (5-11)

    One of the common unhelpful ideas about the Earth.  You'll need to explore the idea that the Earth is spherical explicitly, drawing on the children's ideas to challenge and develop their views.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

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

    Paper digest

  • Vosniadou, S. and Brewer, W., () Mental Models of the Earth: A Study of Conceptual Change in Childhood, Cognitive Psychology.

    Paper digest

  • Sharp, 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

  • Sneider, C. and Pulos, S., () Children’s Cosmographies: Understanding the Earth’s Shape and Gravity, Science Education, 67 (2) 205-221.

    Paper digest

  • Bryce, T. and Blown, E. J., () Children's Concepts of the Shape and Size of the Earth, Sun and Moon, International Journal of Science Education, 35 (3) 388-446.

    Key paper digest

  • Nussbaum, J., () An Assessment of Children's Concepts of the Earth Utilizing Structured Interviews, Science Education, 60 (4) 535-550,

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