Childrens Conceptions of the Earth, Sun and Moon

Year: 1985

Author: Lynch, Patrick P., Jones, Brian L., Reesink, Carole

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

An understanding of the Solar system is associated with enormous cultural significance. The transition from an earth- centred to a heliocentric model represents a nexus of scientific, religious and hermetic thinking. Although astonomy no longer has the status in school science that is once enjoyed there is every reason to suggest that it may be in for something of a revival with the advent of modern simulation techniques and devices. With such considerations in mind this paper explores children's under- standing of the Earth-Sun-Moon system, particularly in relation to shape, size and motion.

Data was obtained by Piagetian-style interview from 32 primary school students (16 at Grade 3 and 16 at Grade 5) representative of ability range and gender. The children afforded a range of quite self-consistent but scientifically incorrect models. The models outlined, the language used and the explanations provided by the children are of considerable importance if one accepts interative learning models in which childrens .pre-conceptions are con- sidered to have a major influence on learning outcomes.