After reading an earlier post about how sometimes science concepts can be taught incorrectly, I started thinking about a class I had before. Often times, teachers and students alike bring with them misconceptions about certain science concepts. Many times these misconceptions have come from movies, talking to others or from observations and they are very difficult to undo. This was made apparent to me when a professor asked a group of us educators, "What color is blood inside your body, blue or red?" I was surprised that the group was divided almost equally on the question. After confirming that the answer was indeed red, we discussed possibly reasons for why there were so many who thought the answer was blue. This helped us to realize that sometimes, our students come with the same misconceptions and it can be difficult to address these issues if we don't understand where they are coming from. The following link provides a list of some science misconceptions. http://www.darylscience.com/Misconceptions.htm

Shanae Hatchell
Shanae Hatchell
5820 Activity Points

Hi Shanae, I agree that misconceptions frequently impede our understanding of important concepts. The Scipack on space and planets discusses the misunderstandings and changes in theories through out history. From before Copernicus to modern astronomists, new hypothesis about the way things work had propelled our thinking. Your classroom discussion on the color of blood inside our bodies was experiential and allowed learners to think like scientists. I recently began coteaching science. It is wonderful having another teacher to plan and bounce ideas off of. We are able to discuss best practices and talk about the key points which we want to teach. This extra support has eased my worries about teaching misconceptions. I feel that we are better able to combine our knowledge and expertise. Thanks for your post

Erin Mendelson
Erin Mendelson
2680 Activity Points

Hi - This is my first year teaching Science, so I am learning as I go. Reading about misconceptions really got me thinking of how that would be a good to use that idea as an introduction. Thank you for the link to common misconceptions. I can see how introducing them would stimulate a class discussion I wish I was able to co-teach - I agree with Erin that there are great benefits! Thank you!

Cheri Alonzo
Cheri Alonzo
1995 Activity Points

Hi Shanae, Thanks so much for posting the link about common misconceptions students have. I found that link to be extremely helpful! I am still working on my degree, so I don’t have a classroom yet. I know as soon as I start teaching science that I will be going back to this link very frequently (the link is already bookmarked on my computer)! Hi Erin, Thanks for mentioning about the Scipack, when I get some free time I will definitely be checking out that one! As I mentioned above, I am still working on my degree so time is really tight right now.

Kaitlin MacMillin
Kaitlin MacMillin
1560 Activity Points

Hi,
As soon as I saw the title of this new thread I became intrigued! I've taught thirty-four years and am fascinated by the variety of misconceptions our students (and teachers) continue to have.

I currently teach sixth-eighth grade alternative middle school students. We began our space studies unit this week - one area of science that continually has dozens of misconceptions. I begin the lesson by dividing the students into groups of three, providing several sizes of balls and balloons and then allow about 10 minutes for them to explore, discuss and prepare to present a demonstration of their movements in space. Immediately all students want to demonstrate the entire solar system - they are proud to know the order of planets. Once they realize they must communicate rotation, revolution, approximate size scales, clockwise or counter clockwise movements; the questions of whether the sun rotates, gives off energy on the side we aren't viewing, and the moon's ability to produce its own light...they are shocked at themselves for not knowing and understanding so much information!

I have discovered the NSTA publication series by Page Keely,"Uncovering Student Ideas in Science. 25 Formative Assessment Probes." The series is phenomenal, designed to elicit students' thoughts and level of understanding in specific areas. Each of the probes are accompanied with detailed National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy K-12 level expectations, suggestion for instruction and assessment.

NSTA provides several chapters available for free download to its members; a great way for you to test a product in your classroom before purchasing! Click on the link I provided - and you will find over 17 of these free chapters in the NSTA Bookstore!

Enjoy your week, Alyce

Alyce Dalzell
Alyce Dalzell
64075 Activity Points

Alyce, I like that activity - thanks for the idea. Getting students to wrap their heads around the complexities of movement in space is so important, and is an exciting way to get them engrossed in science. We so often see the solar system as a static unmoving or just orbiting system. This exercise would really get the students interacting and bouncing ideas off each other. Thanks again

Katrina Cooley
Katrina Cooley
785 Activity Points

Hello,
I located a free journal article through an "Advanced Search" in NSTA's Learning Center that addresses common misconceptions pertaining to scale of distance.

Moon Phase as a Context for Teaching Scale: The Sun and the Moon are our most visible neighbors in space, yet their distance and size relative to the Earth are often misunderstood.

Enjoy your week, Alyce

Alyce Dalzell
Alyce Dalzell
64075 Activity Points

When building models of the solar system, we often line the planets up. This is not quite correct. But, unless you point it out to students, they do not think about it. Every time you have students model a concept, I believe it is very important to spend time discussing the limitation of the model with the students. If not, then those pesky alternative conceptions can occur.

Susan German
Susan German
32075 Activity Points

In the Earth-moon-sun system, people assume everything is in the same plane, which is why they wonder, isn't there an eclipse every month. They also assume bodies are spherical and orbits are circular, and then of course there is the infamous "Coriolis-toilet-swirling" idiocy that refuses to die because people in the media keep irresponsibly keeping it alive. See Bad Coriolis: http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadCoriolis.html Another really common misconception is that there is some kind of physical law that a year must be 365 integer days. Telling elementary school kids that a year is 365 days and that the earth spins in 24 hours is a huge problem, because they build up a fairly elaborate mental model on that basis, all of it wrong. If everyone teaching these things used the words "Approximately" a whole lot, a lot of these misconceptions wouldn't be as bad.

Dov Kruger
Dov Kruger
185 Activity Points

I think that many of the misconceptions in science education are consequences of the tools we used to learn the concepts and the tools we are using to teach them. I received many responses on my prior post on whether or not blood is really red. I love this, because if we have misconceptions about these things, so will our students. I think the important part then, is to research why these ideas are around. Regarding the color of blood, blood is red inside and outside of the body. Although the shade of the red does vary, blood is still red in color. I believe the misconception is very common because through our skins, our veins look bluish in color. In addition, most of the pictures of the body's circulatory system in textbooks and online depict the veins in a blue color and the arteries in red. https://www.msu.edu/~kalinkat/professionalpages/TechMatrixMaterials/documentarybloodmisconceptions.htm#SummaryOfFindings

Shanae Hatchell
Shanae Hatchell
5820 Activity Points

While I am not currently teaching Life Science or Health the blood being red not blue misconception was always brought up by the students based many things, from what they where told by family to what they "knew". Teaching the Earth rotates on a tilted axis as it revolves around a star is also a challenge for getting the students past the misconception of a "tilt" and why the seasons do really occur. One a recent assessment I found that students either had the tilt or the revolution around the sun. The putting the two together and explaining the seasons did lead to some very interesting responses. I am going to have to reteach this next week.

Andrea Medrano
Andrea Medrano
1075 Activity Points

I am not a science teacher, however, I am fascinated by the amount of misconceptions that I have had prior to reading many of the posts and going through the scipacks. To add to what Alyce and Andrea have written, there are many misconceptions that students and adults have when looking at the earth, sun, moon relationship. When teaching proportions in my math class, we used small objects to represent the earth, sun, moon and the space station. I held the "earth" and students were given the other objects and had to position themselves at a distance that was proportional to the actually distance. No student came even close! The misconception that was easiest to understand was the placement of the international space station. Even I got that one wrong. In many movies, when individuals fly to a "space station" they show the view of earth in its entirety. So for me, and probably for my students, it seemed as though the space station should be placed far enough so that a person on it could see the entire planet at once. However, the space station is actually only about 200 - 250 miles above the planet which would not allow for a "global view." Anyways, I feel like I am learning so much from everyone! :P

Shanae Hatchell
Shanae Hatchell
5820 Activity Points

I think a science (or other topic) misconception quiz in class would lead to some very exciting discussions about the subjects of the misconceptions but also would serve as a great lead-in to how we acquire knowledge and how to be critical consumers of information.

Katrina Cooley
Katrina Cooley
785 Activity Points

Unfortunately, there are too many misconceptions and myths taught to children who will be likely to believe it. For example, like one poster said earlier, children are taught that solar systems are lined up in a straight line. I think for display purposes, there should definitely be a diagram of the planets pictured accurately.

Susan Lee
Susan Lee
975 Activity Points

Those are some great activities. I immediately thought of the book "Lies My History Teacher Taught Me" because as times have changed, I don't think we've kept up in education. That and so many cultures/religious groups place taboos on science, particularly life and earth science, so as teachers we need to be respectful of their culture but make sure they are getting the facts.

Susan Rush
Susan Rush
775 Activity Points

Just wanted to mention that the March 2012 issue of NSTA's Book Beat discusses addressing misconceptions in science and links to two formative assessment probes from Page Keeley and Cary Sneider's new book Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy. The probes are "Is the Earth Really Round?" and "What Causes Day and Night?"---two topics that might be of interest.

Claire Reinburg
Claire Reinburg
495 Activity Points

Shanae, I understand exactly what you mean. I find it funny that you use that specific example in regards to the color of blood inside the body. I too remember going over that exact question in one of my science classes. My instructor made sure to clarify for the class that the blood inside the body was red and NOT blue. There is still much to learn and comprehend about science. That's what makes it an enjoyable broad subject. -Jake

Jacob Germain
Jacob Germain
495 Activity Points

Shanae, I understand exactly what you mean. I find it funny that you use that specific example in regards to the color of blood inside the body. I too remember going over that exact question in one of my science classes. My instructor made sure to clarify for the class that the blood inside the body was red and NOT blue. There is still much to learn and comprehend about science. That's what makes it an enjoyable broad subject. -Jake

Jacob Germain
Jacob Germain
495 Activity Points

This really is the crux of the issue of teaching science - addressing the misconceptions. I'm teaching 5th grade science and have had a real difficult time explaining gravity and mass with my class this year. How do you make sure that the common sense understanding (heavier objects fall faster) doesn't overwhelm and crowd out the scientific fact (absent air resistance/friction, objects will fall at the same speed)? We've tried online simulations (Gizmos - they have a tower drop simulation that simulates dropping various objects on the moon and on the earth, with and without parachutes), a cylindrical vacuum chamber/plexiglass tube with a feather and a coin, and dropping various objects (a book and a dollar bill, a book with the dollar bill on top of it - to negate air resistance). And yet, when asked the question, a number of students will still answer that the heavier object will fall faster. What makes it worse - many of the students who answer the question correctly, are still unsure of their answer - if you challenge them, they are likely to change their answer to the wrong one. I find it frustrating, but it keeps me working at finding interesting ways to explain this concept.

Duncan Sutherland
Duncan Sutherland
1750 Activity Points

At the just concluded NSTA conference I picked up a copy of the new Page Keeley and Cary Sneider book: Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy. It has 45 formative assessment probes specifically for astronomy and space science concepts. The very last session of the conference I attended at 11am on Sunday was on misconceptions in astronomy. A great resource shared during the session was a DVD from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics called Beyond the Solar System: Expanding the Universe in the Classroom. It is an extension of the work began in the classic study on student misconceptions A Private Universe. Brian Kruse Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Brian Kruse
Brian Kruse
1610 Activity Points

Hi Brian Page's formative assessment book on astronomy is one to recommend. The NSTA website has how the book can be purchased and also a free chapter with one of the probes to use http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936137381

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
44543 Activity Points

I believe the idea that students have thoughts based on how things work is what teachers struggle with when presenting science concepts. Learning through many modalities is where most of the students I see, middle school level, works best. Tell students and having students experience the learning may begin to open the door to their misconception about a topic or concept. I also believe students have to have repeated exposure.

Yolanda Smith-Evans
Yolanda Smith-Evans
6425 Activity Points

Hi all, I am planning to cover the topic " Reasons for the Seasons" for 8th grade earth science class and looking for any good ideas to have my students overcome their big misconception that the difference of the distance between the earth and the Sun determine the seasons. Many of them believe it is warmer in summer as the earth is closer to the sun during this period, and vice versa in winter. We have to face the contradiction the northern and southern hemisphere seasonal differences during the same period of the year to verify the distance determines the seasons. I would like to hear your teaching more if any of you science teachers have experienced that you were successfully able to make your students convinced that not the distance but the tilt of the earth axis causes the seasons? I have been searching several lesson plans, which do not sink in my brain well to get confidence.

Tomonori Hayamichi
Tomonori Hayamichi
1105 Activity Points

[i]I am planning to cover the topic " Reasons for the Seasons" for 8th grade earth science class and looking for any good ideas to have my students overcome their big misconception that the difference of the distance between the earth and the Sun determine the seasons. Many of them believe it is warmer in summer as the earth is closer to the sun during this period, and vice versa in winter We have to face the contradiction the northern and southern hemisphere seasonal differences during the same period of the year to verify the distance determines the seasons. [/i] Hi Tomonori, How to overcome misconceptions is a daunting task. I recently read an article by the author of the books on Uncovering Student Ideas Using Formative Assessment Probes series. Science Scope April 2012 issue http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/4/ss12_035_08_12" target="_blank">Guest Editorial: Misunderstanding Misconceptions An opinion piece about the different ways teachers view misconceptions by Page Keeley How we approach misconceptions and delve into the whys of what students are thinking is important. Find ways to uncover their ideas on how they come to their own reasons for thinking the sun is closer to the earth in the summer. [i] Are they understanding the scale of the earth and sun in terms of size and distance? Why do they think if the earth is closer to the sun it will be warmer? [/i] Arlene

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
44543 Activity Points

I would like to hear your teaching more if any of you science teachers have experienced that you were successfully able to make your students convinced that not the distance but the tilt of the earth axis causes the seasons? I have been searching several lesson plans, which do not sink in my brain well to get confidence.

Hi Tomonori,

You might want to look at some of the formative assessment probes on astronomy in this NSTA publication
Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy: 45 New Formative Assessment Probes
http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936137381
Several of them can help with uncovering your students ideas about season causes
7 Sunrise to sunset
8 No shadow
13 Shorter Days in Winter
14 Changing Constellations
15 Why is it warmer in the summer


Probe 13 Shorter Days in Winter can be downloaded as a free chapter from nsta.org

My best, Arlene

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
44543 Activity Points

FYI, the free chapter Arlene mentioned "Shorter Days in Winter" (from Page Keeley and Cary Sneider's Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy) can be downloaded here: http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505%2f9781936137381.13 Claire

Claire Reinburg
Claire Reinburg
495 Activity Points

Hi Tomonori,
Besides the great resource Claire provided, there is a whole discussion thread on this with lots of additional resources you might wish to check out at Earth and Space Science > Reason for the Seasons, Moon Phases & Day/Night Cycle!
Also, if you haven't gone through the SciPack on this topic, it has some great interactives. There is a Sci Object that is part of the SciPack on this specific concept - it is extremely helpful.Finally, the NSTA put together a collection for middle school teachers that has several resources included about the seasons: Sun-Earth System: Middle Collection. Let us know if any of these were helpful to you.
Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
86483 Activity Points

Aloha Shanae, You have a very good point about teachers teaching Science concepts. Science in our society has a huge impact on the way we look at things and the way we believe things work. But being the ever-evolving topic Science is, new concepts and new ideas arise often. The way we thought things used to work aren't the same as they are today... Concepts will always change because Science is always changing. Therefor misconceptions will occur just as frequent as the changes in Science! I feel the only way to be "with it" would be to keep yourself updated on the subjects you teach and not depend on the textbook for EVERYTHING. I'm glad you brought this up, it really makes me reflect on my past experiences of common misconceptions. Gary

Gary Kanamori
Gary Kanamori
240 Activity Points

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