Children's Misconceptions about Weather: A Review of the Literature

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Cloud to ground lightning in a storm chase, 1980

ERN Item Type: 

  • Education Reports


National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST)


It is generally accepted that children have their own understanding of how the world works prior to receiving formal science instruction. Much research has been done to determine students' misconceptions related to the physical sciences; less has been done to understand children's ideas in the earth sciences. This paper reports a synthesis of the existing research about children's misconceptions relating to weather, climate and the atmosphere. The scientifically accepted interpretations are presented in tandem with the children's naïve ideas. When possible, the source of the misconception is also presented. In many cases, students' misconceptions are not addressed in the curriculum, allowing them to exist unchallenged.

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