My Compass Won’t Work Miss!

If you got on a school trip then you have to be prepared for anything.

But sometimes you can’t cover every base. Some things take you by surprise.

There was once a school who went on a trekking expedition to Africa but they got totally lost and had to be rescued. The group had actually gone entirely the wrong direction.

The group leader was using a standard compass which was working normally and he was adamant that he was using the correct part of the compass needle, i.e. Red points to North.

It’s a classic mistake that many would make but there is a reason.

A magnetic compass that works perfectly well north of the Equator, doesn’t work at all on the south side of the Equator.

It is because of the Earth’s 3D magnetic field that the magnetic needle of a compass has to be weighted so that it floats horizontally in one hemisphere; but this means that the weight is on the wrong end of the needle for the other hemisphere, so that it doesn’t work there.

Compasses point towards magnetic North, rather than the geographic North Pole. The difference between magnetic North and geographic North is sometimes just a few degrees but in some parts of the world they can be in totally different directions.

So if you are going on a school trip somewhere, be sure of where you are.

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