Make a Homemade Compass!
STEM activities are a great way to keep kids learning and help them explore STEM areas in a fun and engaging way. They help kids develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, learn how to work together, and develop their creativity and imagination. Plus, STEM activities can help kids explore possible STEM careers.
Today’s Fun, Easy STEM activity is a homemade compass. With just a few household materials, kids can build a working compass. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Bowl of water
Kids can use a homemade compass to find their way around, learn about magnetism and the Earth’s magnetic field and use their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Tips to help kids make their own compasses:
- Make sure the needle is magnetized. You can do this by rubbing the needle with a magnet in one direction several times.
- Be sure the needle is floating freely in the water. If the needle is touching the bottom of the bowl or the sides of the bowl, it will not be able to align itself with the Earth’s magnetic field.
- Check to see that the needle is pointing north. If it doesn’t, try rotating the bowl until the needle points north. If it still doesn’t point north, try using a stronger magnet to magnetize the needle.
With a little practice, kids will be able to make a homemade compass that works. Have them try it out by using it to find their way around a park, a playground, or even your own backyard.
STEM careers that use compasses:
- Aviation: Pilots use compasses to navigate their aircraft.
- Surveying: Surveyors use compasses to measure the distance and direction between points on the Earth’s surface.
- Archaeology: Archaeologists use compasses to find their way around ancient sites.
- Geology: Geologists use compasses to map the Earth’s surface and to study the Earth’s magnetic field.
- Marine biology: Marine biologists use compasses to find their way around coral reefs and other underwater habitats.
- Forestry: Foresters use compasses to navigate through forests and other natural areas.
- Search and rescue: Search and rescue personnel use compasses to find lost people.
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Lane specializes in STEM curriculum design and professional development for K-12 stakeholders and enjoys making teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.