Aim of this study was to investigate children’s scientific view of the earth, aged between 5-6 years and 8-9 years, and different mode of questions, open and forced-choice questions, elicited different responses in terms of scientific or inconsistent/non-scientific concepts of the earth. One hundred and twenty-eight children were asked to draw picture of and answer questions about the earth. The finding indicated children, aged 5-6 years, made more inconsistent/non-scientific and fewer scientific responses, whereas children, aged 8-9 years, made more scientific responses and fewer inconsistent/non-scientific responses. However, different mode of questions did not elicited difference responses as children found the questions confusing.
When asked about the shape of the earth, children might say the Earth is flat and that people could fall off. This is because many aspects, scientific view of the Earth, contradict everyday observations (e.g., it is spherical) and are counter-intuitive (e.g., people can live in Singapore without falling off). Studies on children's conceptions of the Earth could reveal some key issue in conceptual development, such as the origins of scientific knowledge and the structure and content of emerging concepts (Nobes, Martin & Panagiotaki, 2005).
Vosniadou and Brewer (1992) investigated the children’s conceptual knowledge about the earth by asking various ages of children to draw picture of, and answer question about the Earth. It indicated that many children did not make consistent scientific view of the Earth (e.g., it is spherical) and that they believed the earth is flat or hollow sphere with people living inside on a flat surface. Vosniadou and Brewer claimed that young children have difficulties understanding that the earth is spherical and formed various ‘misconceptions’ or naïve, theory-like ‘mental models’ of the earth, based on their everyday experience. It is only in late childhood that children acquire the scientific model.
However, Panagiotaki, Nobes and Banerjee (2006) found that Vosniadou and Brewer’s (1992) drawing tasks and questions to be confusing and ambiguous. They stated that, in the drawing tasks, children were unable to draw a sphere Earth, as they are poor at drawing three-dimensional object and have difficulty combining perspectives (Blades & Spencer, 1994; Ingram & Butterworth, 1989; Karmiloff-Smith, 1992, as cited in Nobes, Martin & Panaglotaki, 2005), instead, children chose to draw a flat, hollow or dual Earth. This, does not mean, children drawing a flat or hollow sphere earth, believed the Earth is flat or hollow (Nobes, Martin & Panaglotaki, 2005).
Subsequently, Panagiotaki, Nobes and Banerjee (2006) commented on the method of
questioning. Vosniadou and Brewer used open questions and that when children’s replies were short; they rephrased the questions and ask the questions again. These mislead the children to change their answers as they presume...