How to Make a Magnetic Compass

With these instructions for making the Energizer compass, you’ll be able to get a better idea of where you are and where you’re going.  It’s really easy and doesn’t take much in the way of materials.  This is a fun, hands-on experiment for students of any age.

Materials You’ll Need to Build A Hanging Compass:

  • A needle
  • Magnet
  • 1 clear plastic cup or jar
  • Thread
  • Pencil

Magnetized Needle for the Compass

First: Rub the pointed end of the needle along one side of the magnet, Make sure to rub in the same direction repeatedly. Do this 30-40 times to magnetize the tip of the needle.

Then: Test the needle magnetization by trying to pick up a straight pin with it or another needle. If you can pick up the other piece of metal, then you are ready to put your compass together.

How to Make a Hanging Compass

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

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

Step 3: Place the pencil on the top of a plastic cup with the needle hanging inside the cup.  Now watch as the needle spins and points north. 

Step 4:  Turn the cup in place.  Does the needle continue to point north?  It should!

Please Read Carefully!

All experiments use safe, low-voltage battery power. Household electrical current contains high voltage that could cause serious injury. DO NOT use household electrical current for any of these experiments. ALL experiments should be conducted under adult supervision.

Carefully follow wiring instructions for each experiment. Improper wiring can result in battery leakage and/or rupture.

DO NOT take a battery apart. Contact with internal battery material can cause injury.

DO NOT dispose in fire, recharge, put in backwards, or mix with used or other battery types. This may cause batteries to explode, leak and cause personal injury.