Reflection: Connection to Prior Knowledge Planetary Poster - Section 1: NGSS Background


A lot of what I do in my astronomy unit is misconception correction. Students are in awe of anything astronomy, but don't have any practical experience with it other than the occasional glimpse at the night sky when they take the trash out.

Research has pointed out that due to artificial lighting and indoor air conditioning we spend less time looking at the night sky than our ancestors did. This translates into an almost complete ignorance of our night sky. One of the most common misconceptions that I encounter in eighth grade is the belief that we live in the interior of the Earth and the sky above us is actually a dome protecting our air from escaping into outer space. Eighth graders won't talk about this or share this belief (they're even more scared to ask questions) but trust me it is a VERY commonly held misconception.

To correct misconceptions you will need to be very patient and provide models and discussions to challenge their long held misconceptions. What often happens is that students will take new knowledge and build it into their skewed model. Providing a model that challenges their misconceptions and allowing them to create new conclusions under your careful and loving guidance is one of the strategies you can employ to create new beliefs.

In this activity scale is the misconception I encounter most. Students demonstrate this in their drawing of the planets as being the same size and the same relative distance from each other. I require my students make a rough draft first that takes into account the scale of the Solar System. I reject any poster that shows the planets as the same size or their distances are not relatively shown.

  Misconception Correction
  Connection to Prior Knowledge: Misconception Correction
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Planetary Poster

Unit 11: Solar System
Lesson 3 of 8

Objective: Students will explore the objects in our Solar System by building a poster representing the Sun, eight planets, dwarf planets, asteroid belt, Kuiper Belt, and the Oort Cloud.

Big Idea: Explore scale with your students as they construct a poster depicting our Solar System.

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