Misconceptions in Science
There are many scientific misconceptions out there and, as teachers, it is our duty to help our students dispel these misconceptions by using evidence and laws to create new knowledge. Common misconceptions that you may come across in your classroom could include:
- Dinosaurs, humans and cavemen lived at the same time
- Blood is blue in your veins
- Eclipses are caused by shadows from Earth, the sun, and the moon
- The seasons are caused by Earth’s changing distance from the sun
- Objects float in water because they are lighter than water
- The North Star is the brightest in the sky
- Mother animals will abandon their offspring if they are touched by humans
- AND SO MANY MORE!!!
How to Dispel Misconceptions in Your Classroom
It’s not a question of IF misconceptions will be brought up in your classroom, but rather WHEN they will be brought up. When they are, it’s best to be prepared!! Let’s take the misconception of blood being blue when it is in our veins and/or blood being blood until ti becomes oxygenated and work through possible steps to dispel the misconception.
Watch the video above on how this teacher uses the 5 E Learning Cycle to help her students learn while dispelling misconceptions along the way by using examples, evidence, and models!
- Identify if and how many students believe blood is blue in the veins
- This can be done in a formal pre-assessment or even just by a show of hands
- consider why students may believe this misconception
- In our case, it is often because veins appear blue because of the light filtering through our skin
- Ask students questions!
- “What color is our blood when we see it on the outside of our body?” could be followed up by “why would it change color from blue to red?”
- This allows you to understand students current thinking so you know what you have to show and explain to them
- Use models, videos, or pictures if possible!
- It’s easier for someone to change their mind about what they already know if they have evidence of a different explanation (in the video, the students made models to understand how lunar and solar eclipses work)
Here’s an example of a video you could show that begins to explain why veins appear blue in your body and why that doesn’t mean the blood that is running through them is blue! This video was found on YouTube and the very comical star of the video even included his sources and research in the details if your class needed even more evidence!!
- After viewing videos, models, or pictures, have students come up with real life examples of when the misconception couldn’t be true
- In our example, this could be when blood is drawn by using a syringe
- When you believe learning has taken place, ask students to draw a concept map or use an MTV strategy to SEE that learning has taken place
- MOST IMPORTANTLY!! Remember that misconceptions cannot be changed in one day and every student will need different strategies or amounts of time to work through their misconceptions.
Teaching misconceptions is never a one day lesson. We have to remember to continuously supply our students with evidence and support in order for them to challenge their previous knowledge #scienceteaching #EDT432
— Ms. Creighton (@ClaireCreight10) February 25, 2019