Dismantling Misconception in Science

Misconceptions flood a field, where there is so much to learn, and there are different levels of knowledge within it. In the field of science, and as future educators, it is our job to learn how to address these misconceptions and learn to dismantle them in a way that benefits the class. Things that can lead to misconceptions are things such as, a student hearing it from another source, misunderstanding in the content, past knowledge/preconceived notions, beliefs… these all will lead to misconceptions often times in your classroom. We are going to look deeper into how to address these misconceptions as future educators.

Dismantling Misconceptions Respectfully

  • Listening to all perspectives of students.
  • Using examples that address all students, and does not leave groups of students out.
  • Addressing a particular misconception as a whole, and not targeted towards a certain student.
  • Creating a safe environment, that welcomes new perspectives.
  • Normalizing making ‘Mistakes’

The 5E’s method, as mentioned in the video, is another great way to dispel misconceptions within your classroom.

Take the misconception of “Heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones”, and lets think of a 5Es model that will help students understand this better.


Within our engage, we are going to start the discussion by asking students to predict what they think will happen when we drop a feather and a rock at the same time. Have them share their thoughts and back them up!

After showing this video (as part of the engage phase still), asking students to observe and generate some thoughts as to what they saw, and why.


Have students perform an experiment in teams. allow teams to measure the masses of difference objects, and have them drop them at the same time, recording and comparing how each item is falling.

Repeat experiment with different objects and documenting their observations


After their experiment they perform, come back together as a class, and facilitate a discussion, based on how is what they compared from their experiment, different from what they saw in the video.

Give them a few key words that they have maybe heard thrown around before, such as: Gravity, and Air Resistance. Allow for students to come up with their own definitions for these words based on the experiment they performed.


To expand on the students knowledge, ask them to experiment with objects that have the same mass, BUT different shape (example: a flat sheet of paper vs. a crumpled paper ball).

Students can make graphs that shows time it takes to fall at different heights and analyze patterns.


Provide a multi-scenario based exit slip/quiz that allows students to apply their understanding of the previous misconception to test their newly gained knowledge. Another one is you can ask students to run their experiment, and graph the data, then presenting it to the class sharing their findings. They should mention something about how objects do fall at the same rate (9.8m/s^2) but have other factors that affect the falling object (Air resistance)


This is one way 5E’s learning cycle can be implemented into a misconception demonstration. Misconceptions are going to be present all throughout, our teaching experiences. How we deal with them, can really enhance students knowledge not only in the classroom, but about the world around them. It is always important to handle these with care, as they can affect students differently. It is critical to welcome all students perspectives, and address all angles, so students motivation to share their wonderful ideas are not diminished.


  1. Hi! I really enjoyed reading your blog post. One thing that caught my eye was letting the students predict what they think will happen to the feather. I think this is an awesome way to engage students. I bet most students will stay engaged to find out if their predictions were right or not! Great post!

    • Hi Allie thank you for your response! I think there is, you can even make it into a brain buster, getting people to make predictions, to get them ready and thinking about what is to come throughout the day/week.

  2. Hey Quinten, I enjoyed reading your post. I agree with you that a misconception must be presented to the whole class and not targeted to a specific student. The reverse of that would cause many problems within the classroom. However, how many students do you think need to hold (if you were going to target a misconception that you hear from the students) a misconception for you to address it to the class as a whole?

    • That’s a great question Duncan! I believe if it is seen as a pattern, (so more than like 3/4 people) having the misconception I would address it as a class, if it’s lower then 3, I feel like it can be addressed individually. I hope this helps!

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