teaching kids about magnetism and compass

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teaching kids about magnetism and compass

Postby karenmok » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:27 pm

Hi,
I am trying to teach my DD about magnetism. She has learnt that a magnet attracts some items and not others, and so on. I am now trying to teach her about the magnetic field of the earth. I bought a compass but the girl is not making any progress. I want to teach her how a compass can be used to take bearings, how directions change as we travel in MRT, bus, etc, but have hit a stonewall.
Any suggestions on how to proceed?

karenmok
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Re: teaching kids about magnetism and compass

Postby slmkhoo » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:15 am

karenmok wrote:Hi,
I am trying to teach my DD about magnetism. She has learnt that a magnet attracts some items and not others, and so on. I am now trying to teach her about the magnetic field of the earth. I bought a compass but the girl is not making any progress. I want to teach her how a compass can be used to take bearings, how directions change as we travel in MRT, bus, etc, but have hit a stonewall.
Any suggestions on how to proceed?

How old is she? Just have her draw a path through rooms in the house and neighbourhood?

slmkhoo
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Re: teaching kids about magnetism and compass

Postby cimman » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:11 am

karenmok wrote:Hi,
I am trying to teach my DD about magnetism. She has learnt that a magnet attracts some items and not others, and so on. I am now trying to teach her about the magnetic field of the earth. I bought a compass but the girl is not making any progress. I want to teach her how a compass can be used to take bearings, how directions change as we travel in MRT, bus, etc, but have hit a stonewall.
Any suggestions on how to proceed?


the earth magnetic field is not an easy thing to teach, since it is quite abstract. Best to start with magnets and iron filings, that will show the magnetic lines of force, something visual and physical to relate to the abstract.

cimman
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Re: teaching kids about magnetism and compass

Postby Dr.Daniel » Tue May 07, 2013 2:33 pm

Here's a really simple thing to do to teach about the earth's magnetic field:

Set up a compass on a table pointing north.

First show the student that the north seeking needle of the compass is attracted to the south pole of a magnet. When I do this demonstration in class, I have a magnet painted red on the north pole and blue on the south pole. So this leads to the concept that the geographic north pole of the earth is actually the south magnetic pole. Also this demonstrates that a compass needle is itself a magnet.

Next take the bar magnet and place it perpendicular to the direction of the compass pointing north. Move the north pole of the bar magnet at 90 degrees in toward the compass. What you will see is that your bar magnet repels the needle. If your bar magnet is very far away, the compass just points north normally. But if you put your bar magnet really close then it overwhelms the earth's magnetic field and the compass needle points away from the bar magnet at 90 degrees from north. So find the position of the bar magnet where the compass needle is deflected 45 degrees, meaning it is half way deflected by the bar magnet. In this case the magnetic field from your bar magnet is equal in strength to the earth's magnetic field. This gives students a rough sense of how strong the earth's magnetic field is. It comes out to being about the strength of a relatively weak magnet a few cm from a compass. Its a very quick and effective visual demonstration of the earth's magnetic field strength.

Dr.Daniel
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