the Physics Education Technology Project
In this simulation, students explore how a compass works to point to Earth's poles. By moving a virtual compass around a bar magnet, users can predict the direction of the magnetic field for different locations. Now superimpose a planet Earth over the bar magnet and see the surprising results in the orientation of the poles! The simulation can be adapted well for use in middle school. For older students, add the field meter.
Editor's Note: In a unit on magnetism, teachers may wish to introduce a hands-on experiment prior to introducing the simulation. See Related Materials for recommended hands-on magnet labs.
This resource is part of a large collection of simulations developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET).
Please note that this resource requires
at least version 1.5 of
Earth's magnetic field, bar magnet, compass, magnetic field, magnetism simulation
Metadata instance created
January 23, 2011
by Caroline Hall
August 18, 2016
by Lyle Barbato
Last Update when Cataloged:
September 1, 2010
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4G. Forces of Nature
9-12: 4G/H7. Electric currents in the earth's interior give the earth an extensive magnetic field, which we detect from the orientation of compass needles.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
%0 Electronic Source %D September 1, 2010 %T PhET Simulation: Magnet and Compass %I Physics Education Technology Project %V 2016 %N 3 December 2016 %7 1.02 %8 September 1, 2010 %9 application/java %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/magnet-and-compass
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A closely related simulation to explore how a compass responds to magnetic fields. A bar magnet may be moved about a compass to demonstrate strength-of-field. Remove the bar magnet to see the compass needle point north to the Earth's magnetic pole.