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Make an inclinometer or dipping compass

Suitable For

Grade 8



Time Required

 <2 Days



What’s it about?

Airplane pilots often make use of a device called an ‘inclinometer’ to give them an idea of the angle that their aircraft makes with the horizon. If you removed the needle from a compass and tie a string to its centre, the needle would dip towards the earth’s magnetic north pole if it were suspended freely in the air. The angle of the needle would depend on your location on the earth. Make your own ‘inclinometer’ in the following science experiment:

Topics covered

Magnetic field, Inclinometer

What will I need?


Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

In this science experiment we have created an ‘inclinometer’ by making a piece of wire magnetic and then allowing it to rotate freely and ‘dip’ to indicate its position relative to the earth’s magnetic north pole. An inclinometer’s angle of dip reflects the lines of magnetic force at a specific latitude on earth. At the equator the needle would be completely horizontal whereas at the north pole the needle would point straight up. At latitudes more or less in the middle, between the middle of the equator and the poles of the earth, the needle would point at about a 45 degree angle.

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