You may think that your students all know that the Earth revolves around the Sun and day and night are caused by the Earth’s rotation, but some of your students may have misconceptions about what causes day and night on Earth. I am here to help you change that!
What Causes Day and Night?
In 2014, NPR reported on a National Science Foundation report that said 1 in 4 Americans believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth. In a 2005 poll in the European Union, 44% of respondents believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. Why do so many people have a misconception about what causes day and night on Earth? It most likely stems from the fact that what is happening does not match what we can see. That often causes misconceptions.
If we watch the Sun cross the sky, it looks like the Sun is moving in a circle around the Earth. In fact, for most of recorded history, humans believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. That is what they saw. It wasn’t until 1543, that Nicolas Copernicus first published his theory that the Sun was the center of the solar system. When Galileo Galilei supported Copernicus’ theory in his book published in 1632, the Catholic Church sentenced him to house arrest for the rest of his life. The Catholic Church didn’t accept the heliocentric model of the universe until 1822.
Today, we can watch the Earth rotate on its axis from the point of view of satellites orbiting the planet. We can see that Earth is rotating on its axis and revolving around the Sun. We can see what causes day and night on Earth.
Reading to Learn About Science
My latest science information text teaches students about the Earth’s rotation and what causes day and night on Earth. it also explores why the Earth rotates. In fact, all of the planets, moons, and even the Sun rotates. Spoiler alert, scientists believe it has to do with how the solar system formed.
The information text also explains how the drag on the Earth by the Moon is slowing Earth’s rotation and pushing the Moon farther away from us. When the Earth first formed, days were only about seven hours. While today, a day is 24 hours long, in about five billion years, days will be over 30 hours long.
Of course, the Moon isn’t the only thing affecting Earth’s rotation. Processes on Earth are also speeding up and slowing down the planet’s rotation.
Finally, the text gives an overview of the history of moving from a geocentric to a heliocentric model of the solar system based on the work of Copernicus and Galileo. History and science are always connected.
Remembering What We Read About What Causes Day and Night on Earth
I always include comprehension questions to help students review what they learned. Comprehension questions will help your students remember what causes day and night on Earth because they force neurons to fire together. Neurons that fire together wire together, so your students will remember more of what they read.
Still curious about what causes day and night on Earth? I have a list of videos included with my information text to help every student get comfortable with Earth’s rotation. Here is one of my favorite videos from the list:
Do you want to save yourself time and teach your students about what causes day and night on Earth? Click the picture below to check out my information text!
Are You Teaching Science?
I am working on creating more science units so that every science teacher can get exactly what he or she needs for her students. You can also read about how I use brain science to teach other science topics on my blog. Click the pictures below to learn more.