The Reasons for the Seasonsby: Jeffrey D. Thomas

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The Moon can only be seen at night, electricity only comes from batteries, and dinosaurs and cavemen lived at the same time—these are just a few of the misconceptions students have about science (Phillips 1991). Though instructional labs, demonstrations, and textbooks can alter misunderstandings for a quiz or test, students often revert back to their prior misconceptions of science (Atwood and Atwood 1996; NRC 1996; Dove 1998). This article describes an inquiry-oriented activity the author created to challenge students' alternate conceptions of the seasons and facilitate their adoption of a more accepted scientific theory.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:46 AM

This article addresses a common student misconception regarding why we have seasons. Using anomalous data, students engage in an activity that enables them to understand what causes the seasons and identify seasonal trends. I really like how the author integrates geography into the lesson. The article defines all key terms, clearly outlines the lesson, and provides excellent visual aids. This is an excellent lesson for addressing student misconceptions about the seasons.

Maureen Stover  (Seaside, CA)
Maureen Stover (Seaside, CA)

  • on Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:11 PM

The activity described in this article is an inquiry based activity that provides anomalous temperature data to challenges a student’s misconception about the reason for seasons. The author describes research that presents the seven steps of the instructional strategy of providing data that is inconsistent with student’s beliefs and theories. The whole activity is presented. It would be interesting to reproduce this activity and try this type of learning out to see how middle school students would do.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:55 PM

Much research has been conducted to show how the "reason for the seasons" is one of the major misconceptions adults hold on to from their childhood. This article provides an innovative way for students to face this misconception by collecting weather-related temperature data and analyzing it. As a result of this series of lessons, high school students are able to explain a seasonal trend and test factors that will be used to explain the reason for the seasons and alter their misconceptions. According to the author, by the end of this unit of lessons, “students have developed a solid understanding of the seasons, which challenge their previous misconceptions.” They are able to correctly and thoroughly explain the tilt of Earth as it revolves around the Sun as the primary reason for the seasons. The author uses an inquiry-based activity that he created where students review temperature data, identify factors that might cause the seasons, select one factor to test, and review their re

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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