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Physics Geography
age: 9 – 15

Where is the Earth's magnetic north pole?

Due to a 'convention' the magnetic pole on the northern hemisphere is called 'north', while in fact it (currently) is a magnetic south pole. Although this is rather confusing, and depicted wrongly in some school books and internet pages, it offers a great opportunity to teach students a healthy skepticism and the value of experiments.

Learning objective

Practice a healthy skepticism and look for experimental evidence.

The Earth's magnetic north pole is actually in the southern hemisphere.

Student Task

1. If you hold the north pole of the magnet to the compass, what end of the compass needle is attracted to it?

2. What end of the compass needle points to the northern hemisphere?

3. Where are the magnetic north pole and the magnetic south pole of the Earth?


This experiment is especially valuable if your schoolbook wrongly claims that the magnetic north pole of the Earth was on the northern hemisphere. Give your students enough time to discuss how to conciliate their observations and the contradicting information in the schoolbook before inviting them to research the question on the internet.

You could then discuss the difference between the geographic and the magnetic pole, and the accelerated wandering of the magnetic poles in recent years.