Young Children Do Not Hold the Classic Earth's Shadow Misconception to Explain Lunar Phases

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4 Scopus citations


This research explored young children's early thoughts about natural phenomena and investigated sources of influence toward their knowledge construction. Two Piagetian interviews were conducted with four children. Each child was questioned about two phenomena in particular: (a) the moon and its changing appearance (moon phases) and (b) the formation of shadows. The first Piagetian interview involved a lunar protocol, and the second (given a week later) was a shadow protocol. The external interest of this research study concerns when and why do children develop the commonly held Earth's shadow misconception as the cause of the moon's phases. Findings showed that none of the young children believed that various lunar phases were due to an Earthly shadow cast upon the moon. The shadow interview results revealed that young children had primitive understandings of the shadow concept. In fact, two of the four children indicated that no light source was needed to produce a shadow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-363
Number of pages15
JournalSchool Science and Mathematics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 School Science and Mathematics Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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