Students’ misconceptions about seasons, days, and nights
Students often have many misconceptions regarding changes of seasons or changes in days and nights. The researchers who study these misconceptions usually pay attention to the following ideas declared by children: the Earth is viewed as becoming closer to the Sun when summer comes, and the Sun becomes hidden behind hills when nights come (Driver, Rushworth, Squires, & Wood-Robinson, 2005). There are also many other misconceptions associated with the topic. For instance, students can develop ideas that nights come when the Sun becomes hidden behind clouds in the sky.
Furthermore, students can state that the Earth goes around the Sun, but this process is observed only once a day, when nights come (Driver et al., 2005). Children also refer to a variety of misconceptions related to changes of seasons. Thus, there is an idea that the same season can be observed in each country of the world. In addition, students often note that the weather that is typical of the certain season in the country where they live can be characteristic of this season in spite of a location, and the same weather can be observed everywhere in summer or in winter, for instance (Driver et al., 2005). In spite of the fact that teachers pay much attention to addressing these misconceptions, children often continue developing these ideas.
Why students continue to develop misconceptions
Even if children can study such concepts as ‘season’ and ‘day and night’ at school, they can continue focusing on their misconceptions regarding these phenomena. The problem is in the fact that, when children receive explanations proposed by teachers, they can discuss these ideas and descriptions as complicated and even unreal (Driver et al., 2005). Furthermore, when children observe rainy days or sunsets, they can see how the Sun becomes hidden behind clouds or how the Sun becomes hidden behind hills. As a result, students choose to follow these observations while explaining such processes as changes of days and nights (Driver et al., 2005). The children’s experience plays an important role while discussing students’ misconceptions regarding seasons. In a case when a child does not know much information about the countries located in the Southern Hemisphere, for instance, it is rather difficult for him or her to understand differences in seasons and address the misconceptions regarding the same seasons everywhere on the Earth.
Origins of misconceptions
The discussed views can be regarded as results of the students’ focus on fairy tales, parents’ explanations, and ideas developed in the early childhood. When children ask about the observed processes and changes, adults can provide simple explanations that often mislead students. As a consequence, children often develop wrong visions of certain phenomena that can be based on their previous experience and received descriptions or explanations. From this point, it is important to note that students are inclined to collect ideas from different sources.
In this situation, the teacher’s task is to provide the scientific explanation for the discussed phenomena, but it should be presented in an age-appropriate manner in order to guarantee that a student will use right explanations instead of the developed misconceptions related to the topic. These aspects are important to avoid the further development of wrong ideas that can prevent the understanding of more complex phenomena in the future. Therefore, much attention should be paid to discussing sources of students’ common misconceptions regarding seasons, days, and nights.
Driver, R., Rushworth, P., Squires, A., & Wood-Robinson, V. (2005). Making sense of secondary science: Research into children’s ideas. New York, NY: Routledge.