Some students think that it is cold in the winter because the Sun is on the other side of the Earth at that time

Earth and Space


This may be because students confuse the day and night cycle with the cycle of seasons. Some students might think that the rotation of the Earth makes the Sun sometimes face toward the Earth (summer) and sometimes face away from the Earth (winter).


Resources to address this

  • Why is it hotter in the summer than in the winter? (11-14)

    Sun on the other side of the Earth: The idea here is that when the Sun is on your side of the Earth it's summer and when it's on the other side of the Earth it's winter. There is a clip that addresses this issue.

    View Resource


  • Hsu, Y-S., () Learning About Seasons in a Technologically Enhanced Environment: The Impact of Teacher-Guided and Student-Centered Instructional Approaches on the Process of Students’ Conceptual Change, Wiley InterScience.

    Paper digest

  • Barrier, R. M., () Astronomical Misconceptions, The Physics Teacher, 48, 319.

    Paper digest

  • Galano, S. et al., () Developing the use of visual representations to explain basic astronomy phenomena, Physical review physics education research, 14 (1) 010-145.

    Key paper digest

  • Lee, V. R., () How Different Variants of Orbit Diagrams Influence Student Explanations of the Seasons, Science Education, 94, 985–1007.

    Paper digest

  • Sharp, J. 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

  • Slater, E. V., Morris, J. E. & McKinnon, D., () Astronomy alternative conceptions in preadolescent students in Western Australia, International Journal of Science Education, 40 (17) 2158-2180.

  • Baxter, J., () Children's understanding of familiar astronomical events, International Journal of Science Education, 11 (5) 502-513.

    Key paper digest

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