Teachers Parents Students

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.

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School and family science weekly spotlight:

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There was no singular moment of Big Data Bang, but we are living in and heading towards a time of seemingly endless and exponential data explosion—and the race to create solutions and strategies to help tame, store, organize, and make...

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Take a sneak peak at an exciting pair of hands-on science and engineering activities that Science Buddies has planned for USASEF visitors and get inspired to make your own robots this week in celebration of National Robotics Week—or experiment with your own catapult project!

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Robotics engineers are experimenting with soft robots and robots modeled after biological organisms. With a squishy project at Science Buddies, students can get in on the action and test their own soft, air-powered, robot. A recent story in MIT News...

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School and family science weekly spotlight: What conditions cause yeasts to be most active during fermentation?

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School and family science weekly spotlight: musical straws.



Your Science!
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Help With Your Science Project

The following popular posts are designed to help students at critical stages of the science project process.


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