Extreme Science: Make A Compass - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Extreme Science: Make A Compass

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Make a compass

What you will need:

  • Bowl of water
  • Small piece of paper approx. 1” X 3”
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle
  • Bar magnet
  • Adult supervision

Procedure:

1) Place the needle on the surface of your bar magnet (in the same direction as your magnet)

2) Hold your magnet in one hand while rubbing the needle back and forth on the surface of your magnet with your other hand. You will need to rub the needle back and forth about 100 times.

3) Carefully place the piece of paper in the bowl of water so that it floats.

4) Carefully place the needle on top of the paper. Try to place the needle so that it is facing east/west.

What is going on?

A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions (North, South, East and West.) You will notice that the needle will move so that it is pointing north and south. This is because you have magnetized the needle and the Earth’s magnetic forces are pulling on it. It will always point this same direction. You can test this by bringing your bar magnet close to the bowl of water. Be careful not to bring your magnet too close as it may cause the needle to jump off of the paper towards the magnet. As you draw the magnet closer, the needle will turn and follow your magnet. Once you pull the magnet away, the Earth’s magnetic force will once again turn your needle so that it is pointing North and South.

They used to believe that there was a large rock or outcropping near the North Pole that was considered Magnetic North. We have since learned that Magnetic North is actually moving slowly towards Russia at the rate of 34 – 37 miles each year!

Try this:

Try placing your magnetized needle on other objects that float. Does it make a difference what size (floating) object your needle is on? Does it still end up pointing North and South? Does it take longer to turn on some objects than others? If so, why do you think that is?

Radical Rick
Extreme Science
www.ExtremeScienceFun.com

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