What are some ways you can combat science misconceptions that students have? What are some misconceptions your students have?

Haley Jackson
Haley Jackson
180 Activity Points

Hey Haley,

I think there are many activities that you can do to combat science misconceptions. If you are looking for misconceptions about topic and what they believe to be true then you can have student write down what they know or believe to be true then after the activity you can have students write what they learned and compared it to what they previously knew or believed.
If you are looking to combat general science misconceptions one activity that you can do is have students draw what they think of when they think of a scientist. Then you can have students share and write down on the board the characteristic that they included, is the scientist in a lab?, is it a boy?, is the person wear glasses? ect. You can also add tally marks showing the amount of people who drew the same characteristic. This allows you to observe what the students misconceptions are and you can plan accordingly. You can then have a class discussion about the misconceptions and then have supporting activities around the misconceptions produced. For example if you have a lot of students that drew male scientist then you can gave students research different female scientist. Another idea is if you had a lot of student that drew scientist in a lab then you can have experiments/activity in which they are outside showing them that science is every not just in a lab.
I hope a few of those ideas helped.


Autumn Morrison
Autumn Morrison
735 Activity Points

Haley -- I am currently a student at the University of Houston and one of the very first assignments we were given in my science course was to draw a scientist in our interactive notebooks. There are about 30 students in my class and only 2-3 people drew a female. I think this would be a great activity to do with your students to combat misconceptions of what a scientist looks like. I am guilty of automatically thinking of a male when I hear the word 'scientist' so therefore, I drew a male scientist. It is important for students to know that females can be scientists as well!
Another activity we did was over planets. I have not learned or read about planets since I was in high school. Therefore, I never realized how small Earth really is compared to other planets. My professor showed us a video comparing the different planets and stars. It was truly amazing to see the difference in size.
I think it would be great to ask students what they think about a certain topic, have them write it down, and then discuss it with the whole class.

Danielle Cavazos
Danielle Cavazos
300 Activity Points

Hi Haley,
In order to combat science misconceptions we have to uncover them. The Engage stage of the 5 E inquiry lesson model is a good place to do this. It can be as simple as using a KWL. When we ask our students what they already know, they often provide "faulty knowledge" that harbors their misconceptions. I love using the Pedagogical Implications sections of the SciPacks to help me identify specific misconceptions students may be clinging to - the SciPacks provide color-coded strand maps that connect the conceptual understandings by grade bands.
One example is from the Explaining Matter with Elements, Atoms, and Molecules SciPack. One For the K-2 grade band, the following misconceptions are pointed out concerning evaporation and condensation and the conservation of matter:

  • Water disappears as it evaporates.
    Young children generally do not realize that all of the water still exists; it has just changed into a gas that we call “water vapor,” mixed with the air, and dispersed.

  • A sealed container with a bit of liquid in it weighs more than after the liquid has evaporated.

Let us know what concepts and grade level you will be teaching and perhaps we can share some common misconceptions on those topics as well as point you in the right direction to find resources to help you help your children confront their misconceptions.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
79623 Activity Points

Hello Hayley,
I feel like using real world connections to science is a great way to clear up any misconceptions with your students. Students may think that things are the way they see it on tv or cartoons. For example, a misconception students may have is that when someone falls off a cliff, they stay there for a moment. Kids see that in cartoons therefore, they may think that it happens in real life. As a teacher one thing we can do for our students is role playing. The teacher may use students as examples to show what happens when something falls off an edge.
-Angelica Munoz

Angelica Munoz
Angelica Munoz
310 Activity Points

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