Resources
Measurement
Measurement

#### Reality 1:

We can't tell how far away a celestial object is just by looking at it. Large objects that are far away will appear small, and small objects that are close to Earth can appear large. The Sun and Moon appear to be about the same size in our sky. In reality, the more-distant Sun is much bigger than the Moon.

#### Reality 2:

Weight and mass are not the same. Mass is a measure of a body's resistance to changes in its state of motion, which depends on the amount of matter it contains. Weight is the force of gravity exerted on a body due to its mass and its location near another, more massive object. A person can be weightless but cannot be without mass.

Description

"Myths vs. realities: Measurement" contains common misconceptions about measurements used in space science. The misconception is presented as the “myth” and an explanation of the true concept is the “reality.” Teachers should be aware of the misconceptions students harbor because they impede students' ability to see the “big picture” in the various sciences; hamper students' ability to apply science principles meaningfully to everyday life; and diminish students' ability to appreciate the links among science concepts and generalizations.

Printer-friendly web page
How to use in the classroom

This resource aids teachers in identifying and remedying student misconceptions about measurements used in space science. The best way to learn how students think is to ask them. Below are two strategies that can be employed to identify your students' misconceptions concerning measurements used in space science. The first is an individual writing activity that allows students to think independently. The other is a group activity that allows students to share their ideas verbally.

An individual writing activity. To prepare for a study of measurements used in space science, explain that you are interested in finding out what your students already know about this topic before you start. Ask students to write down what they know about measurements used in space science and why they know it. For example, they may say the Earth is bigger than the Sun, and they know this because the Sun looks small in the sky. Collect their papers and compile a list of misconceptions the students display in their writing.