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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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Environmental conservation and energy science collide in a proposed solar power project that promises greener energy but threatens to disrupt a major migratory path for birds. Students explore with big data science.

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Think baseball is all about runs, outs, balls, and strikes? What about physics, biomechanics, and statistics? Explore the science of baseball!

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We go DIY with molecular gastronomy and family science as we make our own popping boba using the Spherification Kit from the Science Buddies Store.

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The current Ebola crisis in West Africa has already topped charts for all Ebola outbreaks in history. Medical biotechnology science projects let students gets hands-on with projects that parallel real-world research and development.

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An unusual caterpillar brings lots of "eeeews!" and one contribution to a citizen science project. Discover how anyone can collaborate on serious scientific research.

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UC Berkeley Professor Dan Garcia talks about the kind of "drag-and-drop," block-based, snap-together programming environments that are becoming increasingly popular as a way to introduce students of all ages to code.



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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