What you need
- 1 piece of paper cut into a circle
- 1 needle,
- 1 magnet,
- 1 bowl of water,
- 1 compass (if you have one)
- Thread the needle through the circle of paper so that nearly all the needle lies on one side of the paper.
- Now you need to turn that needle into a magnet. You can do this by stroking it 30 times in one direction with one end of your strong magnet.
- Make sure you lift the magnet between strokes.
- Now carefully float the circle of paper on top of the water in the bowl (needle side up).
- The paper should spin around slowly for a few moments and then stop.
- The needle should now be pointing North-South. You can confirm this with a compass if you wish!
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
The needle contains little particles of iron that are all jumbled up. When the needle is stroked with the magnet it makes all the iron particles align in the same direction (North-South); the needle is temporarily magnetised!
When the paper is floating in the water it is free to rotate and is pulled around by the magnetic force of the Earth until the magnet is aligned with the magnetic poles.
You have just made your very own compass.
Until next week, Be a scientist!