Some students think the highest point the Sun reaches in the sky does not change throughout the year

Earth and Space

Misconception RESEARCH REVIEW

To explore students' understanding of this area, children could be asked to add to a drawing to show the position of the Sun, firstly at midday in winter and then, at midday in summer.

Resources to address this

  • The apparent path of the Sun during the day  (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS03 PN03

    Simple direct observations show that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west and that there is a difference in the height of the midday Sun between mid-summer and mid-winter. This information will (later) help with the explanation of the cause of the seasons. For now, its useful for accounting for day and night.

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  • Observing the motion of the Sun   (11-16)

    Ref - Practical physics / Astronomy / Observational astronomy/ Observing the motion of the Sun

    Tracking the motion of the Sun through the sky for a day, month or year.

    Students should note the Sun's position at noon from month to month (take care if summer time is introduced).They should note the height of the Sun at noon at different times of the year. The Sun's path changes with the seasons: high in the sky in mid-summer and low in mid-winter. I

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References

The following studies have documented this misconception:

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

    Review sheet

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