Compasses and Magnetic Fields
Compasses are magnets themselves, and their interaction the magnetic fields produced by other permanent magnets is explored in this simulation. The student moves a compass around within a magnetic field to get a feel for the behavior of the compass, and can measure field strength with a magnetic field probe. Lesson plans are also available for the teacher on this site. A common misconception is to say that a compass points north. It is correct to say that a compass aligns itself with an external magnetic field. The student explores the behavior of a compass within various magnetic fields, and can choose a simple bar magnet or even the planet earth as the source of the magnetic field. By doing so, the student can draw some surprising conclusions about the magnetic field surrounding the earth, and the nature of the earth's north and south magnetic poles.
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