Earth’s Shape and Gravityby: Susan B. Koba with Carol T. Mitchell

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It is not difficult to think of reasons why it is important for students to understand that a round globe represents our planet. After all, Earth is our home in space. Environmentalists remind us that it’s the only home we have, so it’s important that we take care of it. The spherical Earth concept is essential for understanding geography, weather, and certain phases of history, such as the great voyages of exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. Learning about voyages to the Moon or space probes to other planets makes little sense if students fail to understand that Earth is one planet among several in the solar system. In other words, the spherical Earth and gravity concept is an essential building block for many other concepts that we expect students to learn about the world. To transform the task of teaching about Earth’s shape and gravity from a seemingly intractable challenge into a great opportunity, we turn to the Instructional Planning Framework described in the early chapters of this book.

  • Elementary
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  • on Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:38 PM

This book chapter from Hard to Teach Science Concepts is an outstanding lesson unit plan for teaching elementary level students about the Earth's shape and gravity. By giving evidence from her own teaching experience, the author identifies the difficulties young students have with understanding the concept of a round earth. She them provides 5 targets with associated instructional plans. The author goes into detail on how to use each of the instructional plans to teach each target. This chapter also includes 7 lessons on the earth's shape and gravity, SciLinks codes related to the topics, differentiating information, and cross-curricular ties. Bravo! to this outstanding chapter that succinctly explains how to teach a very difficult concept.

Maureen Stover  (Fayetteville, NC)
Maureen Stover (Fayetteville, NC)

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