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Elementary Science Education

Developing a sense of direction: Determining north without a compass

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    • #3906

      Bernard Nebel

      Sense of direction is an important life skill–one can get quite lost without it–and it is a skill that we can help kids develop. The basic steps are: 1) making kids familiar with the concept of maps and how maps apply to a particular place/area of the Earth at large; 2) making kids familiar with with how north, east, south, and west apply to directions on the Earth at large, maps, and the location where they happen to be; 3) Practice to help kids develop the ability to orient themselves, wherever they may be, according to north, east, south, and west, that is determine what direction is north. (See the text for a fuller directions and explanation.)

      If one has a mental image of approximately where one is on a map and can determine north (or any other direction.) one will never be far from finding your way. But one is often without a compass. How can one determine directions without a compass? The following video shows how to do it with a dial watch, or planting a stick in the ground and watching the movement of its shadow for fifteen minutes. (Please post comments or questions.)

      (scroll past lengthy portion about the watch itself; any dial watch with about the correct time will work.)

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