Education Bug - a complete listing of educational resources Free Newsletter Signup
Your Name Age  
Your Email Address Zip
PUBLIC SCHOOLS PRIVATE SCHOOLS SCHOOL DISTRICTS COLLEGES PUBLIC LIBRARIES JOBS BLOG RESOURCES


Follow EducationBug on Twitter

Make a Compass Science Project



This article has information on how to make a compass science project, including the materials needed and directions. Keep reading for instructions for three different ways to make a compass for your science fair project.

Introduction

This project presents instructions for three different ways to make a compass.

To extend the project, you can consider the following:

  • Devise a way to indicate other directions besides North on the compass.
  • Using the compass, create a “treasure map” with directions to reach the “treasure” from a designated starting point. Put something in the treasure location and give the map/directions and the compass to someone and see if they can follow the directions and find the treasure.
  • Figure out an alternative design for the compass so that it’s easier to carry around.
  • Figure out how you could make a compass if you were outside on a sunny day and didn’t have any metal (hint: a stick might be helpful).
  • Other directions for Make a Compass II suggest rubbing only 20 or 30 times or rubbing the magnet back and forth across the needle instead of in one direction only. Try these different approaches and compare them.
  • Compare the Compasses made by using methods II and III. Which, if either, works better?

Make a Compass I

In this project, students use an existing magnet as a compass. They then place the compass in a context in which it can function.

Materials

  • A small bar magnet
  • A small piece of Styrofoam, wide enough to hold the bar magnet
  • A pie plate
  • Water

Directions

  1. Place the magnet on the table. Observe whether or not the North pole of the magnet is able to seek north.
  2. Place the Styrofoam in the pie plate.
  3. Carefully add enough water so that it floats (you want enough so it can move, but not so much that it will be difficult to move around with the pie plate).
  4. Carefully balance the magnet on top of the Styrofoam. Watch it shift to the North.
  5. Pick up the pie plate and carefully turn in various directions, watching to see what your compass does.

Make a Compass II

In this project, students use an existing magnet to make a magnet that will function as a compass more easily that the compass in Make a Compass I because it is lighter.

Materials
A needle

  • A cork or small piece of Styrofoam that will float flat (i.e., without bobbling around a lot)
  • A paper cup, empty yogurt container, or pie plate
  • Water
  • A strong magnet
  • Some type of quick drying liquid adhesive (optional)

Directions

  1. Hold the needle by one end and the magnet in the other hand.
  2. Rub the end of the needle across one pole of the magnet in one direction only about 60 times.
  3. Test the needle to see if it is magnetic. If so, go on to 4. If not, repeat 2.
  4. Place the cork or Styrofoam on the table as it will be placed in the water. Push the needle through the center of the cork or Styrofoam so that it sticks out on either side. Or use a little adhesive to attach the needle to the Styrofoam or cork.
  5. Now put the water into the container you’ve chosen and carefully float the cork or Styrofoam on top.

Make a Compass III

In this project, students use an heat to make a magnet that will function as a compass more easily that the compass in Make a Compass I because it is lighter.

Materials

  • A needle
  • A cork or small piece of Styrofoam that will float flat (i.e., without bobbling around a lot)
  • A paper cup, empty yogurt container, or pie plate
  • Water
  • A lit candle, Bunsen burner, or other controlled flame.
  • Some type of quick drying liquid adhesive (optional)
  • Knowledge of which way is North (or a compass to determine it)
  • Hemostat or tongs or pencil with eraser
  • A dinner plate

Directions

  1. Pick up the needle by one end using the hemostat or tongs or push it through the pencil eraser.
  2. Hold the needle in the fire until it is red hot.
  3. Lay it on the plate pointing North to South and leave it to cool.
  4. Test the needle to see if it is magnetic. If so, go on to 5. If not, repeat 2.
  5. Place the cork or Styrofoam on the table as it will be placed in the water. Push the needle through the center of the cork or Styrofoam so that it sticks out on either side. Or use a little adhesive to attach the needle to the Styrofoam or cork.
  6. Now put the water into the container you’ve chosen and carefully float the cork or Styrofoam on top.