|Photo credit: Green-Planet-Solar-Energy.com|
A bowl, water, a needle, a piece of buoyant material (craft foam, a small piece of cork or a small piece of wax paper), a magnet
15 - 60 minutes
- Carefully run your needle back and forth across your magnet to magnetize it (at least 50 times).
- Fill your bowl with about 1 inch of water.
- Push your needle through your buoyant material so that it lies in the middle of the needle, then place it into the bowl.
- Your needle will face due north! You have created a compass!
How can you test your compass to ensure it is pointing in the right direction? How could a compass be helpful in your daily life? Who might use a compass as a part of their career?
A compass is a precision instrument designed specifically for navigation. The compass uses a magnetized pointer to determine directions in relationship to the earth's magnetic poles.
Written records indicate that the first magnetic compasses were used by the Chinese as early as 1100 a.d.. Early compasses consisted of a piece of lodestone on a piece of wood, a cork, or a reed floating in a bowl of water.
TIPS & IMAGININGS:
- Create a scavenger hunt using your compass that you can then implement with your friends or family (take 5 steps north, then 13 steps west, etc.). The prize at the end can include anything you’d like!
- Imagine what it used to be like before compasses...how do you think people found their way without getting lost all the time?
This activity is part of a series of low cost, hands on activities that can be used by anyone who has a passion for nature and who believes that a child's time spent in nature is not only important, but necessary. Each activity was either created by me or gathered from a variety of sources. You can find the complete list of all of the activities on my Nature Activities tab.