Make your own Ancient Compass

This is a great Science project for school or every day fun!


A compass if one of the worlds oldest inventions that we still use today.  They were invented by the Ancient Chinese and were made of lodestone.  Lodestone is a naturally magnetized  iron.  The Ancient Chinese found out that when the lodestone turned freely is would always point in the same direction.


Materials: A strong magnet, 1 Needle, Thread, Safety Pin


Step 1: In this step you will magnetize the needle.  Magnetizing the needle means making it have the properties of a magnet. In order to do this you have to leave one end of the needle on top of the magnet for 24 hours. After 24 hours test the needle to see if it is magnetized by trying to pick up a safety pin with the magnetized end.  If it is not magnetized leave it on top of the magnet for another couple of hours.  The stronger magnet the faster it will work.

Step 2: Cut about 10 inches of thread.

Step 3: Thread to the middle of the needle so that both sides have an equal amount

Step 4: Walk outside and hold the needle by the thread so it hangs arms length and turn slowly in a circle

What happens?

The magnetized end of the needle points in the same direction no matter which way you turn

Why does this happen?

A compass works by detecting the Earth’s magnetic field. All magnetic fields have two main poles.  The lines of magnetic force from inside the earth run closely along the lines of the North and South Poles. When you magnetized the needle it reacted with the Earth’s magnetic fields.  Since opposites attract the Southern Pole of the needle is attracted to the Earth’s magnetic North Pole.  This is why a compass always points North.