Academics, Upper School

Students Prove Scientific Evidence with Solar System Models

Ninth grade students created videos and 3D physical models to refute common misconceptions about both the solar system and how the Earth interacts with the moon and sun. The aptly titled Misconception Project was the culmination of a major unit in Physical Science.

“The students built and used these models all trimester, and we wanted to give them a choice in how to engage their analytical skills more,” says Physical Science teacher Sophie Daudon. “This project is an example of how to process science and effectively communicate facts through both researched evidence and modeled evidence.”

Students chose from six common misconceptions involving the relationship between the moon, Earth, and sun, such as the idea that summer occurs because the Earth is closer to the sun, and the Earth is at the center of the solar system. Using their physical models to demonstrate and explain concrete evidence, the students recorded videos countering the misconception with the positive claim. For example, students could not just say, “the Earth is not flat.” They had to state, “the Earth is round,” and demonstrate the accuracy of the statement via their model.

“The project has been effective at teaching the students how to successfully use technology,” says Sophie. Students learned how to save PowerPoint slides so others could edit them, how to upload to our online learning management system Oba, and how to use the online video editing platform WeVideo.”

In addition to the video, students were required to create a supplemental scientific poster on PowerPoint using credible sources and connect the evidence to the claim by writing a reasoning section.

Physical Science teacher Jeremy DeWitt says the inspiration for the project came from an interaction he had with a flat Earth believer over the summer. “I was forced to think about what my understanding of the Earth and how to present clear evidence to support my claim that the Earth is round,” says Jeremy. “The students accomplish that communication in this project.”