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  • Classroom Compass Activity
  • Regional Science Center

  • In-Class Compass Activity

    When demonstrating how to use a compass, first go over all of the parts of the compass. Show the students the base of the compass. Show them where Fred (direction of travel arrow) is located on the base, and explain to them that Fred always points in the direction they will be walking, that direction being forward. This is a good time to talk to the students about the proper way to hold their compass. The students should understand the compass needs to be held horizontal with Fred pointing away from them. (directly forward)

    Next discuss the dial of the compass. The students should understand that there are 360 degrees in a circle, but there are not 360 little lines on the compass. Make sure that the students understand that each line counts for 2 degrees. You can then move on to talking about the arrow that moves with the dial. This arrow we call the shed. The shed not move unless you turn the dial of your compass.

    Next, talk about the needle that is found on the center of your compass. Explain that the red half of the needle is the part of that needle that we are interested in. This needle is called the red. When the compass is held properly the needle will always point to magnetic north. Have the students memorize the saying "put the red in the shed and follow Fred." Explain the need to put the red needle into the shed arrow by turning their bodies until the red is in the shed and then they follow Fred.

    Give students different degrees to set their compasses on and have them practice the new material that they have just learned. Have the students work in groups of two or three.