Some students use a geocentric model of the solar system i.e. the Earth at the centre
This can be taken further by saying that then Sun and Moon move towards and away from the Earth or by saying that the Sun and Moon orbit around the Earth together.
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
Acting out day and night (5-11)
Ref - SPT HS03 TA06
Accounting for day and night is quite complex, and we suggest that the very best way for children to develop a helpful understand this is to act out a model of the process.
They also learn about the explanation of the solar system.View Resource
The solar system: what do we know? (11-14)
Ref - SPT ES03 PN01
This activity looks at the model of the solar system, as accepted now.View Resource
Does the Earth move? photographing the night sky (11-16)
Ref - Practical physics / Astronomy/ Observational astronomy/
Does the Earth move? Photographing the night sky
The photograph will show arcs of a circle as the stars in the northern hemisphere appear to revolve around the Pole Star. It is then necessary to explore possible explanations.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)
- Pine, K., Messer, D. & John, S.K., () Children's Misconceptions in Primary Science: A Survey of teachers' views, Research in Science & Technological Education, 19 (1)
- Plummer, D. J., Zahm, M. V. & Rice, R., () Inquiry and Astronomy: Preservice Teachers’ Investigations of Celestial Motion, Journal of Science Teacher Education.
- 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.
- Jones, L. B., Lynch, P. P. & Reesink, C., () Children's conceptions of the earth, sun and moon, International Journal of Science Education,
- Pena, M. and Gil Quilez, M. J., () The importance of images in astronomy education, International Journal of Science Education, 23 (11)
- Chiras, A. and Valenides, N., () Day/Night Cycle: Mental models of Primary School Children, Science Education International, 19 (1)
- Osborne, J., Wadsworth, P., Black, P. and Meadows, J., () The earth in space: Primary space project research report, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
- Prather, E.E., Slater, F.T., Offerdahl, G.E., () Hints of a Fundamental Misconception in Cosmology, The Astronomy Education, 1 (2)
- Trundle, K.C., Atwood, R.K. and Christopher, J. E., () Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Conceptions of Moon Phases before and after Instruction, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39 (7)
- Slater, V.E., Morris, E. J. & McKinnon, D., () Astronomy alternative conceptions in preadolescent students in Western Australia, International Journal of Science Education, 40 (17)