Create a Compass

Walk 10 blocks north. Drive three miles east. Fly two hours south. We rely on directions every day to get where we need to go. Without knowing north, south, east, and west, wed be lost!
example of homemade compass

But what do these directions mean? North is the direction that points from where you are to the Earth's North Pole. We can find north by looking at stars and constellations. We can also find north with a compass. From any place on Earth, a compass will always point north. And once you find north, you can figure out which way is south, east, and west.

The Chinese invented the first compass more than 2,000 years ago. A modern-day compass

Why does a compass point north? That's because a compass is a small magnet. And a compass works because the Earth also acts like one giant magnet! Deep below the Earth's surface is the Earth's core, made of iron and nickel. The outer part of the core is liquid metal that moves around the solid inner core. This motion creates a magnetic field around the Earth. Like all magnets, the Earth has two poles. The magnetic needle on a compass will always point toward the North Pole.

See if you can find north by making your own compass.

What You'll Need What To Do