Gallery Walk and Misconceptions

Gallery Walk and Misconceptions

Gallery Walk is a good way to expose student misconceptions about earth science. As you circulate during the Gallery Walk, listen for student misconceptions and misunderstandings concerning the topic. Remember or write down these misconceptions and address these faulty ideas before the end of the exercise. Gallery Walk is also a good forum for using misconceptions as discussion topics. Have students discuss the nature of the phenomenon associated with a particular misconception and then suggest the proper explanation for the phenomenon.

Examples of Common Misconceptions for Discussion

These misconceptions are drawn from the list of references below.

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  1. Streams generally flow more slowly as the stream nears its outlet.
  2. The Earth is closer to the Sun in summer than in winter.
  3. Winds are primarily responsible for driving ocean currents.
  4. When water boils and bubbles come up the bubbles are air.
  5. Humid air is heavier than dry air.
  6. Dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time.
  7. Moon phases result from the shadow of the earth cast on the moon.
  8. The moon emits its own light, rather than reflecting light from the sun.
  9. Groundwater typically occurs in the form of basins, lakes, and fast flowing streams underground.

Resources for Earth Science Misconceptions

Print Resources for Earth Science Misconceptions

  1. King, C. 2000. The Earth's Mantle Is Solid: Teachers' Misconceptions About the Earth and Plate Tectonics. School Science Review; v82 n298 p57-64. The study focuses on common misconceptions held by teachers.
  2. Marques, L. and Thompson, D. 1997. Misconceptions and Conceptual Changes Concerning Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics among Portuguese Students Aged 16-17. Research in Science and Technological Education; v15 n2 p195-222. A teacher-learner model is suggested for countering misconceptions associated with plate tectonics.
  3. Philips, W. 1991. Earth Science Misconceptions, Science Teacher; v58 n2 p21-23. The article lists over 50 misconceptions, categorized by age level, for various earth science topics.
  4. Taylor, I. 1996. Illuminating Lunar Phases. Science Teacher; v63 n8 p39-41. The article uses a constructivist approach to address misconceptions concerning the moon.
  5. Trend, R. 2001. Deep Time Framework: A Preliminary Study of U.K. Primary Teachers' Conceptions of Geological Time and Perceptions of Geoscience. Journal of Research in Science Teaching; v38 n2 p191-221. In-service teachers act as a study sample to identify misconceptions associated with earth science phenomena in general and deep time in particular.

Web Resources for Earth Science Misconceptions

  1. Fraser. A., 2000. Bad Meteorology (more info) (accessed 15 November 2004). Find discussion relating to cloud formation, raindrop shop, greenhouse effect, and coriolis effect.
  2. Henriques, L. , 2000. Children's misconceptions about weather: A review of the literature (more info) (accessed 15 November 2004). A tabular presentation of misconceptions relating to the water cycle, phase changes, clouds, precipitation, atmosphere, seasons, heating of the earth, and greenhouse effect. An extensive bibliography accompanies the article.
  3. Lehmann. K, 2000. Bad Chemistry ( This site may be offline. ) (accessed 15 November 2004). The hydrophobic effect, pressure melting, and ionic solutions are mentioned as causes of frequent misunderstanding.
  4. CSMEE, 1997 . Misconceptions as Barriers to Understanding Science (accessed 15 November 2004). Chapter four of "Science Teaching Reconsidered", assesses the role of misconceptions in the learning process, descriptions and examples of some common misconceptions in science, methods to identify misconceptions, and methods to break down misconceptions.
  5. Phillips, W, 1991. Earth Science Misconceptions ( This site may be offline. ) (accessed 15 November 2004). Find a variety of misconceptions categorized by age level as well as subject.
  6. Plait, B., 2004. Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions (more info) (accessed 15 November 2004). Bill Plait discusses a variety of celestial misconceptions ranging from the moon landing hoax to the cause of the seasons.