Electricity and Magnetism | Forces and Motion

Finding north

Classroom Activity for 5-11 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

To introduce the idea of finding the magnetic north pole from anywhere on the Earth.

What to Prepare

  • a strong bar magnet, suspended in a sling, so that it is free to pivot
  • a walker's compass

What Happens During this Activity

Hang the magnet in a sling, taking care not to have any magnetic materials nearby that it might be attracted to. Point to the XxxxVille (pick a town just north of you) seeking pole. Mark it.

Ask what would happen if you went further north up this island. You'd still be pointing to a XxxxVille (that town just north of you) seeking pole! You can use this continuing tendency to point to things north of you to introduce the idea of north seeking pole. This is usually contracted to the north pole of the magnet – really meaning the north-seeking pole.

Show the walker's compass, asking how you know where north is with this. To take this further you might like to show how this alters over the Earth.

can be analysed using Magnetic Field
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