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Science - 5th Grade
Standard 3 Objective 2
1 class periods of 45 minutes each
Students make a water compass by using a needle and a bar magnet.
For the Student: (Groups of 2)
The Earth has minerals that are naturally magnetic. The mineral magnetite is a natural magnet and is found in Greek writings as early as 800 B.C. The compass was the first use of magnetism and some people believe it was first used in China. Others believe that the magnet was invented by Italians or Arabs.
In 1600, William Gilbert of England said that the Earth itself is a magnet. In 1800, Michael Faraday discovered that all iron objects could become magnetic to a greater or lesser degree.
If a magnet is suspended so that it can rotate freely, one end will seek magnetic north and the other end magnetic south. This is the basis of using a magnet to find direction. If iron filings are sprinkled over a magnet, they will cling to the magnet in a definite pattern.
There are many kinds of compasses. In a mariner's compass, the liquid is a non freezable mixture of alcohol and water or glycerin and water. This mixture floats a card marked with the degrees of direction. Several magnets are fastened to the card. The students' water compass is a much simplified version of this compass.
Ask the students to answer the following two questions: