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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching Primary Science: Chemistry. Join the course to learn more.

Eliciting misconceptions: Concept Cartoons

This video shows how concept cartoons can help to elicit misconceptions around the properties of a solid.

Concept cartoons are pictures which demonstrate a scientific idea and usually have up to four different statements about the idea. Usually one of the statements is correct and the other statements may be close to the correct idea or misconceptions. Sometimes concept cartoons are used where there is one statement completed and the others are left blank for the children to complete with their own concepts of the idea.

In Stuart Naylor and Brenda Keogh’s book ‘Science Concept Cartoons’ (2014) they state that concept cartoons allow you to:

  • Make the learners’ ideas explicit
  • Challenge and develop the learners’ ideas
  • Illustrate alternative viewpoints
  • Provide a stimulus for discussion and argument
  • Promote thinking and reasoning
  • Help learners to ask their own questions
  • Provide starting points for investigation and enquiry
  • Create a sense of purpose
  • Pose open ended problems

This is an example of a Concept Cartoon template:

A photo of four soft toys around a glass of water. One soft toy asks a question: why is there water on the outside of the ice water glass? Three toys have blank speech bubbles above them.

There are blank spaces to be completed with possible misconceptions children may have. An example of a completed Concept Cartoon for the image above is also linked in the Downloads below.

Creating Concept Cartoons

For this task, you are going to complete one of the templates. We’d like you to share your completed templates onto the Concept Cartoon Padlet. Padlet is a virtual pin board for uploading your photos. You do not need to register an account to post to Padlet, but please do add your name to anything you post. Guidance on how to use Padlet.

  1. Download and complete one of the Concept Cartoons from the links below.
  2. Complete it, filling in the blanks with possible misconceptions children may have.
  3. Upload your completed Concept Cartoon to the Padlet.

Have a look at other completed ones. Are they similar to yours?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Chemistry

National STEM Learning Centre