Students cling to childhood misconceptions about science, writes Susan Black in American School Board Journal. On top of that, they’re often given textbooks riddled with errors.
William Beaty, an engineer who designed an electricity exhibit for the Boston Museum of Science, discovered “a morass of misconceptions, mistakes, and misinformation” in grade school science textbooks. In fact, he couldn’t find a single book that explained basic electricity correctly.
North Carolina State University physics professor John Hubisz found similar problems in a two-year study of middle-school science textbooks. All told, he compiled 500 pages of errors in 12 textbooks, including mix-ups between fission and fusion, incorrect definitions of absolute zero, and a map showing the equator running through the southern states.
Even students who can provide correct answers in class often revert to their childhood ideas about how things work.