Some students think the Earth is a sphere with the inside of the sphere being blue

Earth and Space


Thus explaining why the sky is blue. They may also think that we live inside the sphere. 

This misconception arises from seeing images of the Earth's shape. 

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)

    Ref - SPT HS02 TL02

    This activity includes 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
  • Early ideas about the solar system  (11-14)

    Ref - SPT ES03 PN03

    The history of how our view of the heavens changed is fascinating. This is a reconstruction, identifying some salient points useful for science lessons.

    View Resource
  • Thales' model of the Universe  (11-16)

    Ref - Practical Physics / Astronomy /  Greek astronomy / Thales model of the Universe

    The early Greek philosopher Thales, in about 600 BC, proposed a model to explain the daily motion of the stars. You can demonstrate it using an umbrella.

    It will then be necessary to explore why this idea is not correct.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

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


    Review sheet

  • Nussbaum, J., () Children’s Conceptions of the Earth as a Cosmic Body: A Cross Age Study, Science Education, 63,


    Review sheet

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


    Review sheet

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

    Review Sheet

  • Straatemeier, M., van der Maas, H. L. J., Jansen, B. R. J., () Children’s knowledge of the earth: A new methodological and statistical approach Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 100,


    Review sheet

We've won an award!

Teach Secondary Awards

We have been awarded 5 stars for our CPD programme.

Learn more