Ever since Peter Peregrinus floated lodestones in water in the 13th century, compasses have assisted explorers and travelers in finding their way. Modern compasses are powered by magnets and show direction due to the pull of the magnetic North and South poles of the Earth. The needle in the compass is magnetic and it will show which direction north is, allowing the user to also find east, west and south. Teach students how compasses work by having them create their own compasses from magnets and materials found around the home.
Fill a small bowl with water.
Rub the magnet over the pointed end of a needle, always rubbing the magnet over the needle in the same direction and on the same side. Continue this motion for about 40 strokes. This magnetizes the needle.
Cut a small piece of cork. Push the needle all the way through the cork so that it sticks out of both ends.
Place the cork with the needle through it into the small bowl of water, allowing the cork to float in the center. The magnetized point of the needle will point north.
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