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Science Projects for Kids: Magnets and Metal

Choose a Compass to Make

Make either of these types of compasses.
Make either of these types of compasses.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Make a compass, and you'll always know which direction you're headed. You can make a floating compass or a Chinese hanging compass -- or both!

What You'll Need:

  • 2 needles (one for each compass)
  • Magnet
  • Straight pin
  • Cork
  • Scissors
  • 2 clear plastic cups (one for each compass)
  • Water
  • Thread
  • Pencil

Magnetized Needle for Both Compasses

Step 1: Rub the pointed end of the needle along one side of the magnet, always rubbing in the same direction. Do this about 30 times to magnetize the needle.


Step 2: Test the magnetized needle by trying to pick up the straight pin with it. If you can pick up the pin, the needle is ready.

Step 3: If you will be making both compasses, repeat the process with the other needle.

Floating Compass

Step 1: Cut a small piece of cork, and push the magnetized needle through it.

Step 2: Fill a plastic cup with water.

Step 3: Carefully place the cork with the magnetized needle into the cup so the cork floats in the center. The magnetized end will always face north.

Chinese Hanging Compass

Step 1: Tie an end of a short piece of thread to the center of the magnetized needle.

Step 2: Tie the other end of the thread to a pencil.

Step 3: Place the pencil over the rim of the plastic cup. Again, the magnetized end of the needle will point north.

For more fun science projects for kids, check out: