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How to make a DIY compass at home with a needle

Whether you are professional hiker, adventurer or not, you may already have used this object. Yeah, I'm talking about the compass. It may have been at school, boy scout camping or somewhere else. It happens to be really useful when you are trying to find your route or go somewhere. But what do you do if you notice that you forgot it??? Let make one ourselves though!!!

That's the magic of STEM. Kids and adults love learning how to make and build things. Let's see here how to build a compass form scratch.


This project is pretty simple to realize and also talking about the amount of material needed.

To get started, you need the following:

  • A cork

  • a bowl filled with water

  • a needle

  • a utility knife

  • And a real compass (Or a digital one on your smartphone)

How to build your DIY compass step-by-step

To get started, fill up your bowl with water

Then cut a piece of cork (About 1/4 of in)

Magnetize the needle with a magnet. This can be done with your headset if you don't have a magnet nearby. So it can have an electromagnetic field for the rest of the manipulation.

Put the needle on the cork.

And to finish, put the cork on top of the water bowl (in the middle).

Turn on the compass app on your smartphone and place it by the bowl of the water containing the needle. Now wait about a minute so the head of the needle turns to the north like on your compass.


The planet earth is a big magnet on itself. With north pole being the north and south pole the south. So whenever you have a mobile magnet like a compass, the magnetic north of earth will attract it. This is what happened to our needle that we have magnetized before the experiment.

You can share your experiment you decide to try it at home. Enjoy!!!

Video of compass making

This short video shows a step-by-step guide on how to make a DIY compass with a needle and a cork

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