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ERIC Number: EJ847281
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0036-6803
A Case Study of Three Children's Original Interpretations of the Moon's Changing Appearance
Wilhelm, Jennifer
School Science and Mathematics, v109 n5 p258-273 May 2009
A case study of three children was conducted to shed light on the process that children undergo in developing their understanding of physical phenomena. Using the notion of spontaneous construction and its relationship with school learning of scientific concepts, children's early thoughts of the moon's appearance were explored. Research questions were primarily concerned with how children view the moon's appearance, explain how and/or why its appearance changes, quantify the moon's size and its distance to Earth, and explain the moon's illumination. A Piagetian interview was conducted with each child and then each was asked to tell a story about the moon. The external interest of this research study involves when and why do children develop the commonly held Earth's shadow alternative conception as the cause of the moon's phases. The findings show that children have stories and experiences that give meaning to the existence of such things as the moon, stars, sun, and clouds. Similarities were found in the children's interpretations with regard to their natural tendencies to animate celestial objects. Clues were discovered of cultural influence such as family, personal observations and experiences, books, pictures, car travel, and even a strategically placed Palladian window.
School Science and Mathematics Association. Oklahoma State University, 245 Willard, Stillwater, OK 74078. Tel: 405-744-8018; Fax: 405-744-6290; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A