Magnets at the Core

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
7 8 9 10 11 12
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL); Earth Science Week (ESW)
Summary:Over time, Earth's magnetic poles change strength and location. They also completely reverse directions episodically. The north magnetic pole is currently moving northwest at 40 kilometers per year. It moved from 81.3° N, 110.8° W in 2001 to 82.7° N, 114.4° W in 2005. (Learn more at The strength and direction of Earth's magnetic field at any time in geologic history is recorded by sediments and oceanic crust deposited or formed at that time. After scientists drill and collect a cylindrical “core” sample from the ocean floor, they use an instrument called a magnetometer to determine the magnetic orientation of each of the core's layers. In this activity, students demonstrate the powers of magnetic force on cardinal directions.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 4
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.A
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-3
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Developing and using models
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation
Subjects: earth science week; geology; maps; rocks
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