Elementary Students’ Mental Models of the Solar System
This research project aimed to identify and analyze Mexican primary school students’ ideas about the components of the solar system. In particular, this study focused on conceptions of the solar system and representations of the dynamics of the solar system based on the functional and structural models that students make in school. Using a Euclidean distance-based cluster analysis, six different models of the solar system were identified. The results of this study suggest that these models do not specifically correlate to one school grade. The identified models vary in complexity, not only by the number of components but also by the dynamic interactions and distributions of the elements that comprise the models. This diversity of models shows that students do not simply reproduce the diagrams in their textbooks or the diagrams that they have access to in their environment. Though the oldest children’s models approach textbook diagrams in the more complex models, up and down movements are still present in children’s explanations of their models.
Calderón-Canales, E., Flores-Camacho, F., & Gallegos-Cázares, L. (2013). Elementary students’ mental models of the Solar System. Astronomy Education Review, 12(1), 010108.