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The Misconceptions Of Primary Science

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In this assignment I will discuss the misconceptions of primary science that have developed over the years. I will include my own knowledge and what I have witnessed myself during my time on placement. I will research and identify how we could help the children overcome the misconceptions.

The primary school is a very small sized infant school. The age group starts from 4-11. The school has a total of 150 students. They have limited number of students in each class. It is a mixed ability school with a range of different ethnicities. I work in year 4 with 26 students.

General misconceptions

A lot of people who hold a misconception of science they do not even know that their ideas incorrect. When they are told they are wrong, they often have a hard time giving up their misconceptions, especially if they have had a misconception for a long time. Imagine someone telling you was 60 but you only looked about 30. (Science Misconceptions | Common Misconceptions in Science, 2020)

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Science misconceptions

I did a lesson on a specific misconception. I did “are all metals magnetic”. They all thought that all metals are all magnetic. I did this experiment with a magnet and different kinds of metals. Children often do not believe everything until it is proven. So, we tried it and the magnet did not stick to everything. Children often get these misconceptions from so many different things. I asked them and they had said they seen it on tv shows and maybe the metal items they had seen were all magnetic. They were shown videos to also prove that not all metals are magnetic. I did a few lessons with them on this topic. What children see and learn does really give a big impact on them as they remembered all the answers to the questions I asked. It is hard changing someone’s belief on their misconception as they have believed in that for such a long while. Such as which type of metals are magnetic. My group of children wanted to learn a lot more about this topic. As often teachers do not go over misconceptions as such.

When children in the UK first experience formal science lessons, usually at the age of five, the topics taught are not unfamiliar to them. Since the introduction of a National Curriculum for England and Wales, primary school children are now required to study Experimental and Investigative Science which includes Life Processes and Living Things, Materials and their Properties and Physical Processes (headings taken from the Key Stage 1 Programme of Study). Therefore, primary science lessons are likely to be based around the effects of physical forces like pushing and pulling, how plants and humans grow, or how various objects sink, float or balance. All of these are concepts which the children will have previously experienced in some form in their daily lives. And these experiences will have left their trace, since from them the children will have constructed a number of intuitive ideas and theories about how the world around them works (Kuhn, 1989). ‘One of the most important findings of cognitive/developmental research is that children do not come to the science learning task as a ‘tabula rasa’ but they have acquired rich knowledge about the physical world based on their everyday experiences’. (Vosniadou and Ionnides, 1998).

Conceptual change in science The role for the primary teacher is to organise the child’s naive ideas into a coherent concept which is both accurate and explicit. However, whether this involves discarding and replacing the initial knowledge, or reorganising and developing it, is a question that gives rise to two opposing views about how conceptual development in science occurs. Many existing characterisations of the process of conceptual change focus on a conflict between two sets of knowledge, where the child’s incorrect one is finally abandoned in favour of the teacher’s more correct conceptualisation (Posner, Strike, Hewson and Hewson, 1982). Carey espoused this view, by postulating that many of children’s initial ideas about physics are incompatible with the adult concept, thus demanding a major reconceptualisation analogous to a paradigm shift in scientific theory (Carey and Gelman, 1991). Piaget, too, claimed that cognitive conflict would create disequilibrium and that, with maturation, misconcepts would fall by the wayside (Piaget, 1977).


  1. 2020. Science Misconceptions | Common Misconceptions In Science. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].

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The Misconceptions Of Primary Science. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
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