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Paperclip Compass

Materials Tools
Paperclip Strong Magnet

Unfold a paperclip until it looks something like the photo above. To magnetize the paperclip so that it points north, you must first determine the north pole of the strong magnet. From your grade school science classes, you will remember that magnets always have two poles - a north and a south. Also, recall that opposite poles attract and like poles repel.

Take the strong magnet and suspend it from a string. Note which end points toward the north - that would be the south pole of the magnet. Now take the north pole of the strong magnet and rub it along the long side of the paperclip from the bend to the end. Don't rub it back and forth - just rub it in one direction, from the bend to the end. Do this several times to make the paperclip a stronger magnet.

Now you should be able to balance the paperclip on a hard slick surface like a rock or a piece of plastic. The long side of the paperclip should point to the north.

Copyright © 2002 Vincent Hale