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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.

Disk Magnet and Compass Interactive

The black circle represents a ceramic disk magnet, with the north pole side up. The other item represents a compass; the red end of the needle is the end that would point towards Earth's North Magnetic Pole. Notice that the red end of the compass needle points away from the magnet. For historical reasons, what we call "Earth's North Magnetic Pole" is actually the south pole of Earth's magnetic field! Yikes!

Drag either the compass or the magnet around to explore the magnetic field around the magnet.

(Note: If you cannot see the animation below, or it is not working properly, you may need to download the latest Flash player.)

This is an early draft version of this activity. We expect to replace it with a better version soon. Some things to be aware of:

  • If you drag either the compass or the magnet off screen and let go, you won't have any way to get them back. Reload/refresh the web page to start over.
  • The behavior of the compass might be a bit different in the real world when you place it on top of the magnet.
Last modified August 22, 2007 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF