The Understanding of Astronomy Concepts by Students From Basic Education of a Public School
We present the results obtained in a research on the comprehension of basic astronomical concepts, in which 561 students from fifth grade middle school to third grade high school of a public school of the city of Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) took part. A test with 20 multiple-choice questions was applied to indentify the most common conceptions expressed by the students. This test was elaborated based on the literature about misconceptions and covered the following topics: the day-night cycle; the time zones; the seasons of the year; the phases of the Moon; the movement of the Moon; the apparent movement of the Sun in the celestial sphere; the eclipses; the dimensions and distances in the Universe; the brightness of the stars and its observation from Earth. Though a small progress was verified in the proportion of scientifically acceptable answers when comparing the eighth grade of middle school to the fifth, and the third grade of high school to the first, there was an overall predominance of alternative conceptions regarding most of the explored subjects, which persisted up to the last year of secondary school. The comparison to data found in this research made in other socio-cultural contexts revealed, in many aspects, similar notions and difficulties revealed by the students.