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Finding Your Way

  • Which way does your house face?
  • In which direction do you sleep?
  • Your school is which direction from your house?
pocket compass from Wikipedia
Learning to read a pocket compass - a long-lost art? (Image: Wikipedia)

If you don't know the answers, offhand, to those questions, you are likely not alone. We all know the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. And if you live on a coast and within view of the water, you can probably orient your sense of cardinal direction based on the water. Beyond that, however, your sense of North, South, East, and West may be entirely dependent on a gadget of one form or another.

With GPS becoming more and more commonplace, finding one's way has been reduced to an exercise in inputting starting and ending points and then listening carefully to turn-by-turn directions. Similarly, the availability of print-on-demand directions from a myriad of online mapping services has displaced the act of tracing a route on a printed map, highlighting the highways to take for a vacation or travel, and the art then of later refolding the map so that it can be stowed and used another time.

With technology at hand to manage navigation for us, it's easy to lose track of direction... where we stand, what we face, from which angle the sun hits our yard or bedroom windows.

Getting a better understanding of positioning and learning to "read" and understand natural clues will slow you down enough to really look, think, and process what's involved in knowing "where we are" at any given moment. Even if you don't have a camping trip (or a treasure hunt) planned anytime soon (where you might be able to show off your navigating skills), the following projects are perfect for the long days of summer and good for classes as well.

Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies and Autodesk for Student STEM Exploration


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School and family science weekly spotlight: explore how different sorbents might help clean up an oil spill.

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Highlights and favorite posts from last year on the Science Buddies Blog—great science project overviews, visual spreads that show hands-on science in action, and real-world connections.

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A new website feature at Science Buddies, sponsored by Cisco Foundation, brings science news to students. With the news feed, students can easily locate science news stories related to a project or science interest.

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Thanks to Aerojet Rocketdyne, the INFINITY Science Center, and Science Buddies, teachers in Mississippi got a booster course in rocket science—and paper airplane folding.

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School and family science weekly spotlight: use dough to explore the relationship between dimensions of an object and volume.

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In movies like Dolphin Tale, you don't have to look far to find the engineering design process in action. With the steps of the engineering process being acted out as the story unfolds, students see that success often involves a great deal of trial, error, testing, and redesigning.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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