Misconceptions in Geology and Meteorology

In a series of posts this week, I will be sharing 5 Misconceptions in Science and providing lessons and activities to help dispel these conceptual misunderstandings. Today’s post focuses on common misconceptions in geology and meteorology. I’ve selected to highlight just a few.

Misconceptions in Geology @EvaVarga.net

Common Sources of Misconceptions

You may be asking yourself, how do misconceptions take root in the first place? Misconceptions are formed by a variety of contributing factors.

  • Everyday language can cause misconceptions. For example, students may have seen their parents buy or administer “plant food” and so believe that plants need food to grow.
  • Lack of evidence leads students to form mistaken conclusions. Because students cannot see germs or microscopic organic materials without a microscope, they may not grasp the concept.
  • Word of mouth, the media, and speculation all spread misconceptions.
  • Confusion over concepts can create wrong impressions.

Misconceptions in Geology & Meteorology


The greenhouse effect is caused when gasses in the atmosphere behave as a blanket and trap radiation which is then re-radiated to the earth.

First let me clarify that the greenhouse effect and global warming are NOT the same thing. The greenhouse effect is the name applied to the process which causes the surface of the Earth to be warmer than it would have been in the absence of an atmosphere. Global warming is the name given to an expected increase in the magnitude of the greenhouse effect, whereby the surface of the Earth will amost inevitably become hotter than it is now.

I will be discussing the greenhouse effect in this post – not global warming.

The fact that Earth has an average surface temperature comfortably between the boiling point and freezing point of water, and thus is suitable for our sort of life, cannot be explained by simply suggesting that our planet orbits at just the right distance from the sun to absorb just the right amount of solar radiation.

Parts of our atmosphere act as an insulating blanket of just the right thickness, trapping sufficient solar energy to keep the global average temperature in a pleasant range. This ‘blanket’ is a collection of atmospheric gases called ‘greenhouse gases’ based on the idea that the gases also ‘trap’ heat similarly to the glass walls of a greenhouse.

These gases, mainly water vapor ( ), carbon dioxide (), methane (), and nitrous oxide (), all act as effective global insulators. To understand why, it’s important to understand a few basic facts about solar radiation and the structure of atmospheric gases.

The following activities will help your students better understand the concepts described above.

What is a Greenhouse?

What Factors Impact a Greenhouse?

5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them @EvaVarga.net

Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them

Misconceptions in Astronomy

Misconceptions in Chemistry & Physics 

Misconceptions in Biology

You might also be interested in my travel hopscotch,  Discovering Peru, where you’ll have the chance to win a travel guide of choice from DK Publishing.

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing.


Misconceptions in Astronomy

In a series of posts this week, I will be sharing 5 Misconceptions in Science and providing lessons and activities to help dispel these conceptual misunderstandings. Today’s post focuses on common misconceptions in astronomy.

Misconceptions in Astronomy @EvaVarga.netMisconceptions in Astronomy

Misconceptions creep into the science of astronomy perhaps more than any other science. Surveys have found that even college graduates carry persistent misconceptions or even wildly incorrect ideas about the phases of the moon or the cause of the seasons.

Considering the following statements, which are true? Which are false?


1) The sky is blue because it reflects the blue color of the oceans.
2) The seasons are caused by the Earth’s distance from the sun.
3) The Moon’s phases are due to the shadow of the Earth falling on the Moon.
4) The bright glow of a meteor is not caused by friction as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.
5) There are no stars seen in Apollo Moon-landing pictures thus proving that these landings were staged.
6) The Hubble Space Telescope is bigger than all Earth-based telescopes.
7) Stars in the night sky do have color.
8) The Moon is bigger near the horizon than when it’s overhead.
9) In the southern hemisphere, winters are much warmer than those in the northern hemisphere.
10) X-rays are emitted from the eclipsed sun but these X-rays do not damage your eyes if you look at the eclipsed sun.

How to Dispel Misconceptions

To help foster the replacement of misconceptions with new concepts, students should be encouraged to ask questions. Additionally, they should be given ample opportunity to engage in hands-on experiments or demonstrations designed to test hypotheses.

Carefully selected demonstrations are one way of helping students overcome misconceptions, and there are a variety of resources available. Let’s take the second statement above and explore how we can dispel this common misunderstanding.


The seasons are caused by the Earth’s distance from the sun.

Studies have shown that as many as 95% of people— including most college graduates—incorrectly believe that the seasons result from the Earth moving closer to or farther from the Sun. In reality, the answer lies in the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis away or toward the Sun as the Earth travels through its year-long orbit. Distance plays no role since the Earth actually is closest to the Sun during the first week of January.

This video embedded below uses a globe and a strip of thermochromic paper to show how the axial tilt of the Earth as it orbits the sun produces the changing season. This is an excellent hands-on activity in which to engage your students to dispel this commonly held misconception.

To further investigate this common misconception in astronomy, check out National Geographic’s lesson The Reason for the Seasons.

Using demonstrations is a great tool to help dispel misconceptions. Be careful, however, to choose models and demonstrations that do do not mislead or strengthen other misconceptions. A popular model of the solar system that shows the relative distances of the planets from the sun, shows the planets all rotating around the sun on the same plane rather than on independent three-dimensional paths.

5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them @EvaVarga.net

Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them (series introduction)

Misconceptions in Geology & Meteorology (coming Wednesday)

Misconceptions in Chemistry & Physics (coming Thursday)

Misconceptions in Biology (coming Friday)

You might also be interested in my 5 day series,  Discovering Peru, where you’ll have the chance to win a travel guide of choice from DK Publishing.

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing.

Hopcotch2015Statements 4, 7, and 10 are true.  Statements 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9 are false.


Time After Time: The Blessings of Homeschooling

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles, confusion
Is nothing new
Flashback – warm nights
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories
Time after …

~ Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time

Time After Time: Blessings of Homeschooling @EvaVarga.net

Exploring Chinatown in San Francisco

Homeschooling is not easy. There are days I get caught up in circles of confusion – not knowing which direction I should proceed. She wants to learn Chinese? How am I going to do that?!

There are days when I am totally stressed out, irritated beyond words, and I just want to throw in the towel. You haven’t finished your math lesson, why are you still on Minecraft?!

Days when I fear we are falling behind their peers and I feel like a failure as a teacher and as a mom.  There are plenty of moments when I question myself and second guess my decisions.

Time after time, I am asked whether we will continue to homeschool through the middle school and high school years. Despite the obstacles and frustrations, I truly believe that homeschooling is worth all the rough patches.

The suitcases of memories we have made as a homeschooling family will be cherished forever. This life is truly a rich life and we have been blessed in so many ways!

The Blessings of Homeschooling

Time with Family

One of the blessings for which I am most grateful is the opportunity to spend more time with family. We have recently moved back to Oregon and now reside again on the southern coast where both my husband and I grew up. Here, we are surrounded by family and childhood friends.

With family in such close proximity, we are able to include them in our outings. Most recently, we met up with my dad for breakfast and then drove to Dean’s Creek Elk Viewing area, located northeast of Reedsport. Here we spent time watching the elk graze in the meadow and listen to Papa as he shared with us his wisdom.

We are also able to meet their dad at work regularly for lunch dates. When he has business meetings or conferences away from home, we are able to accompany him.

Time After Time: Blessings of Homeschooling @EvaVarga.net

Our excursion to Machu Picchu, Peru

Time to Travel

Not being tied to a school schedule, we are able to travel during the off season. We have thereby made it a tradition of traveling abroad in the fall when rates are lower and crowds are smaller. Last year, we spent three weeks in Ecuador and Perú. The year prior, we were in China. This year, we will be touring the ruins and museums of Italy and Greece.

Time to Explore

We are also able to try new hobbies and experience classes that may not otherwise be available. One of our most enjoyable experiences was a week-long sailing class. This coming year, we look forward to trying our hand at wood carving.

Time to Pursue Passions

When we discover a handcraft or activity we thoroughly enjoy, we are able to pursue our passions with gusto. In a series of guest posts, my daughter shares her first passion project, Fly Tying.

Time to Bless Others

My children and I have been volunteering in a variety of venues since they were toddlers. Homeschooling affords us the time to bless others as we share our skills and talents. Volunteer Opportunities for Kids abound. You just need to know where to look and don’t be afraid to ask.

Time After Time: Blessings of Homeschooling @EvaVarga.net

Accompanying their dad on a business trip in Las Vegas

Time to Connect

Related to time with family, homeschooling also allows us the time to connect with others with shared interests. When my daughter wanted to learn more about fly tying – we sought out local fly fishing enthusiasts. These encounters and relationships open doors.

Time to Reflect

Homeschooling allows each of us to reflect on what we feel is important.  I feel confidant that my son is passionate about playing piano because we have celebrated it in our home. He has never felt he had to stop doing what he loved in order to fit in with others.

Relatedly, my children have been able to take as much time as they need to grasp a difficult math concept. Working at our own pace and not feeling pressure to keep up with the Jones’ is another blessing of homeschooling.

~ ~ ~

Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time is one of my most beloved songs. It has been selected by many in the industry as one of the best love songs of all time. Though it was written about romantic love – the opening stanza reminds me of the joys and tribulations that we face as homeschooling parents.

HomeschoolGiftsThankfulHomeschool Gifts: What I am Thankful For is a link-up sponsored by the iHomeschool Network.

The Homeschool Omnibus is Back!

The annual Homeschool Omnibus is back!! I couldn’t be more excited to share with you this incredible collection of digital homeschool resources – eBooks, curriculum, MP3s … there is just so much!

iHomeschool Network's 4th annual Omnibus sale • the original homeschool bundle

The affiliate links included are for resources we absolutely love and truly depend on. Because one of my Science Logic curriculum units is included in the Homeschool Omnibus, if you purchase through my affiliate link, I will receive a percentage of the sale for no extra cost to you. 谢谢 – Takk – Gracias -Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy.


This is the best bundle available – with over a hundred products from well known homeschool authors. There are so many resources, I printed off a list of all the books in the bundle or check out this gorgeous online catalog that lists them all! Just click on the image below to see the full 2015 Omnibus Catalog.

Science, writing, American Sign Language, history, literature, geography, art, planners and printables, and high school resources ~ plus a lot of homemaking inspiration for parents. All these topics are covered in this year’s bundle.

iHomeschool Network's 4th annual Omnibus sale • the original homeschool bundle

One of the featured resources in this year’s Omnibus is my Ecology Explorations curricula. This is a 10-week middles school science unit which includes 20+ activities and lesson plans fully outlined for you. Background knowledge, notebooking pages, and suggestions for extension activities are included. It is valued at $19.90 alone!

Purchasing the Omnibus also provides you with over thirty additional discounts and freebies, including 50% off a product of your choice from my Science Logic store. 

There are so many wonderful homeschool resources in the Omnibus, many of which we use regularly ourselves all year. Whether you consider yourself to be unschoolers, homeschool from a Charlotte Mason perspective, or use a classical approach, you’ll find something that suits your homeschool style.

One of my favorites include Stephanie Harrington’s Wildflower Notebooking Pages. Stephanie has generously offered a free sample of these beautifully designed nature study pages. You can find more of Stephanie’s titles at Harrington Harmonies.

Another favorite is Mary Prather’s Squilt Curriculum. Squilt is a simple and fun way to integrate music study into your homeschool curriculum. Mary blogs at Homegrown Learners, where you’ll find inspiration and support for music and Classical Conversations. Mary has also generously provided a free sample of Squilt Volume 3: The Romantic Era.

These samples will be r​emoved a​t the conclusion of the Omnibus sale so be sure to download and save them to your hard drive before August 9th.

iHomeschool Network's 4th annual Omnibus sale • the original homeschool bundle

Breaking it Down

  • 124 total resources: 47 MP3s and 77 books
  • from 100 speakers/authors
  • for homeschoolers by homeschoolers
  • total value is $754
  • your cost is $25 (with $9 DVD add-on)
  • cost is just 3% of the value
  • PDFs also come in Kindle/mobi format (where appropriate)
  • 33 bonus resources, discounts, and/or freebies
  • sale runs from August 3-9, 2015, specifically 12:01 AM Eastern Time, August 3 to 11:59 PM Pacific Time August 9.

An Additional Bonus

When you choose to purchase the Homeschool Omnibus through the links on this page, I get a percentage of the profits. This is a huge blessing to our family, and I’d like to say an extra “thank you” by offering one of my additional ebooks FREE with your purchase!

My ebook Ecology Explorations is already included in this year’s Omnibus, but if you order the bundle you can also choose from the following mini-units:

To claim your bonus, just order your Omnibus through the links on this page and forward a copy of your receipt to me and mention which eBook you would like. 

The Omnibus is only available for a limited time. Buy it this week to take advantage of this incredible offer.



A Day in the Life of an Unschooler

I asked my kiddos to write a short essay reflecting upon a typical homeschool day and they asked if they could collaborate on the article together. This is the result of the assignment. Written by Geneva. Photographs by Jeffrey.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netA Day in the Life of an Unschooler

The typical life for a homeschooler – and an unschooler at that – is, well extremely hard to explain. One day we might complete as much as we had planned while the very next day we do very little. It is this and the fact that we are not attached to a schedule that we have the ability to learn whatever we most desire. In an attempt to give you an idea about a day in the life of a homeschooler, I will try to summarize a typical day.

Usually I wake up, put together a small breakfast, and play on my phone for a small while – I read my email (my mum and Mandarin teacher send me my assignments), text my friends, and watch a little anime. After about an hour of this I proceed to work on language. I nearly always do it first, because it is one thing I enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like a chore. It also helps me get motivated to finish the rest of my schoolwork. When I am done with that I either do music or math depending on my mood.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netFor math, I will sometimes use Khan Academy (which is a website that has videos to help you learn), but mostly I do the next lesson in Life of Fred. If I get frustrated, I might switch and come back to it a little later or ask my mum for help.

I will practice the violin for about 30 minutes, take a break by doing a few chores around the house, and then practice for an additional 15 minutes. Sometimes, though rarely, my brother and I try to play together with some music that we have both been learning.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netBy now, it is around lunch time. I find something to eat though sometimes mum will fix up a meal. Thereafter, anything that is left I then do to finish up.

I nearly always save writing for last because it is definitely my favorite. It gives me something to look forward to while doing my other schoolwork. On occasion mum will read from a writing book that has an assignment that she wishes us to do, other times I will write a letter. Most often I can write about whatever I please.

Some days we complete history or science together. When mum reads aloud, we often do something quiet to keep us entertained and from falling asleep. I generally draw and my brother sometimes builds Lego.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netWe have a lot of time to pursue projects that interest us. I love that I have the time to learn what I want to learn.

Hop over to the 7th Annual Not Back to School Blog Hop at iHomeschool Network to see what a typical Day in the Life looks like for other homeschool families. Or, write a post of your own and link up!

Build Your Homeschool Library: Book Sale @EvaVarga.net