Monday, October 3, 2011

understanding children's ideas of the shape of the earth

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Before the research I conducted, there were previous research completed in America and Greece. But never in Australia has there been a research about children’s ideas about the shape of the earth. The first research was undertaken as a study of conceptual change, more commonly known as psychology (Vosniadou and Brewer 1), which studied the metal models of earth. The second research was undertaken in mind/regard of the children’s ideas in science (Nussbaum 1) to represent earth as a cosmic body. Each research had the exact same four views of how the earth could be broadly categorized by the ideas children gave.


The 4 views of the earth


1) The Sphere- it is a scientific notion of the earth in a sphere with people living on the surface


) The Hollow Sphere- the earth is a hollow sphere or ball with people living on a flat section deep inside it


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) Dual Earth- this notion expresses two earths, a round one up in the sky and a flat one where people live


4) Disc Earth- (also known as the pancake earth) the earth is round like a pancake than round like a ball


How these researches-the study of conceptual change (Vosniadou and Brewer 1) and the children’s ideas in science (Nussbaum 1) came with these exact four views are expressed in the following tables


Mental Model (1)- Sphere


Vosniadou and Brewer Nussbaum


- children met the requirements to fit in the spherical earth category- Typically children who kept referring to the mental model of spherical earth, demonstrating a satisfactory and stable knowledge of the aspects of the earth concept, which therefore constantly came with the scientific earth concept - Children who held the notion that demonstrated a satisfactory and stable notion of all aspects of the earth concept was classified under this mental model- The aspects of the earth concept is 1) a spherical planet ) Surrounded by space ) Objects falling into the centre, not in a straight line- The conclusion that presented up after examining and analyising the data, it therefore was said that children can overcome immediate perceptual distractions and respond consistently with the content of the scientific earth concept


Mental Model () - Hollow Sphere


Vosniadou and Brewer Nussbaum


- Children who were placed in this category gave a pattern of responses consistent with the view thata) The earth is a hollow sphere and that people live deep inside itORb) That the earth consists of two hemispheres 1) A lower hemisphere on which people live upon) An upper hemisphere which consists of the sky and which covers the earth like a dome- Children in this category would say that the earth is spherical when seen from the outside but that it looks flat to them because they live on the flat ground inside earth - Children’s ideas that are classified under this notion believe that the earth is a huge ball composed of two hemispheres1) The lower part is solid and is basically made up of soil and rocks, people live on this lower hemisphere surface) The upper hemisphere is not solid, it is made up of ‘air’ or ‘sky’ or a combination of ‘air and sky’- Children in this category would claim that we (humans) live inside the earth and that it is impossible to live upon it- In this category, the children would hold the notion that the sun, moon and stars may exist inside the ball (meaning the earth), upon the ball’s surface or outside the ball


Mental Model () - Dual Earth


Vosniadou and Brewer Nussbaum


- Children who were placed in this category gave a pattern of responses constantly with the view that there is one earth which is round and located up in the sky, another which is flat, where people live- Most of the children who constructed this model used the word ‘earth’ primarily to refer to the round earth which is like a planet up in the sky, the flat earth is usually referred to as the ground - Children in this category responded by limiting space at its ‘bottom’ with oceans or ground, therefore the child limits the space ‘above’ the earth by including the sky- Establishing horizontal ground ‘below’ and ‘sky ‘above’, the earth’s model is really an act of metal reconstruction of reality from a clear egocentric point of view- Basically, children who is categorized in this notion believes that a ground limits space ‘below’ the earth and the sky limits the space ‘above’ the earth


Mental Model (4) - Disc Earth (Pancake Notion)


Vosniadou and Brewer Nussbaum


- This mental model represents the earth as a disc supported by ground- Children placed in this category has not got the notion of space surrounding the earth- These children think of the earth as a disc with dirt or water below it and sky directly above it - Children who hold this notion of the earth as flat and not round like a ball, may not completely suggest it at the beginning- They began like everyone else, stating that the earth is round like a ball but in a brief verbal probing, it reveals that they don’t really believe that they/ we live on the surface of a huge ball, basically the children who held this notion believed that that the earth is just flat


Looking at these previous researches, the aim of my research is


ð To look at children’s understanding of the shape of the earth


ð To determine whether there are changes with their ideas with age


ð To determine if the models used in the previous research by children outside Australia apply to the children’s ideas in Australia





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