Pathfinders Pre-Camp Lesson Plan
From the beginning of time, people and animals have used various techniques to navigate throughout the world. To prepare for the Pathfinders class at Heartland, students will learn about some of these methods of navigation. In addition, they will create their own compasses to understand how these tools work.
- Students will develop research skills
- Students will understand one of the different ways animals navigate
- Students will practice presenting information to their peers
- Students will understand the basic concept of how compasses work
- Sewing needles (one per group)
- Small magnets (one per group)
- Corks (one per group)
- Small cups of water (one per group)
- Pair of Pliers (one per group)
- Introduction & vocab – 30 min – 1 hour
- Migrations – 1-3 days
- Create Compass – 1 hour
Tell the students that when they go to camp at Heartland Conference Retreat Center, they will be taking a class that teaches how to use a compass. Ask: “What are compasses used for?” Wait for responses. “A compass is one tool people use to help them to figure out geographic directions. The needle on a compass will always point to the north. Compasses help us to navigate. Who has heard the word ‘navigate’ before? Who can tell me what this word means?” A simple definition of Navigate is the process of an individual finding their way from point A to point B. “Why is it important to navigate? What happens when we do not know how to navigate?”
“Using a compass is only one way to figure out how to get places. What are other ways we navigate? What are some ways you know how to get places?”
“Does anyone know how compasses work? Did you know that the entire earth is like one big magnet? A compass points to the North because of the magnetic force of the earth. The magnetic pull from the magnetic pole in the Arctic attracts the magnet inside the compass. This causes the compass needle to point to the North. Let’s define a couple of the words I just said. First of all, raise your hand if you know what a magnet is. Does anyone think they can define the word ‘magnet’?” Let a few students respond. “What about magnetic force. What do you think this is?” A magnetic force is a force caused by the electricity in the atoms of an item (usually a metal). It tends to attract or push away other magnetic objects. “I also mentioned that the Earth has a magnetic pole. What do you think I meant by that? A magnetic pole on the Earth is caused by the planet’s natural magnetism. There are two magnet poles, north and south. These are the locations with the strongest magnetic force. This is why a compass points north.
“Now that we know how a compass works, let’s learn about the parts of a compass. I am going to pass out a worksheet with a simple picture of a compass and we will label it together.” (Pass out the “Parts of a Compass Worksheet.”) Go through each part.
- Base Plate: The flat parts of the compass. Always keep the base plate parallel with the ground. If it is perpendicular, it will read incorrectly
- Needle: The red needle always points north. Never follow the red needle unless you want to go north.
- Dial: The movable circle that has the degrees of the circle listed.
- Orientation Arrow: The arrow on the base of the dial, usually with stripes
- Direction of Travel Arrow: The arrow on the base plate that points forward. This should always point in the same direction of their toes or straight out from their belly button.
- Degrees: A circle is divided into 360 degrees. An angle is made of degree and shows how far away from North you are. As you increase in degree you increase your angle. North = 0 or 360, East = 90, South = 180, and West = 270. More precision can be gained by using actual degrees instead of north, south, east and west.
MAIN INSTRUCTION / ACTIVITY:
“We talked a little bit about compasses and navigation. What are some reasons people may need to travel?” Some ideas may include trade, exploration, moving to a new place for new opportunities (ex. pioneers or pilgrims), early hunter gatherer societies may have followed game migrations, etc.
“Those are all really great reasons for people to travel. What about animals? Do animals ever travel? What are some reasons an animals may travel?” Find new territory, search for food, shelter, mates, etc. “What is it called when animals make seasonal journeys?” Migrations. “Why do you think that animals may migrate?” Food availability, water availability, habitat requirements for different life cycle stages, and weather conditions. Can any of you think of some examples of animals that migrate for different reasons?” Explain to the students that they will have the opportunity to learn more about animal migrations. Have the students choose an animal that migrates. Either alone or in groups, the students will research about that animal migration: why the animal migrates, where it migrates to and from, and how it navigates (how it knows where it is going). After students gather information, they can create a poster or some other creative way to present their information to the rest of the class. Examples may be:
- North American birds – migrate due to seasonal changes that affect food availability.
- Salmon – migrate to lay eggs in calm freshwater streams and then live in the ocean as adults
- Arctic Tern – longest migration known of any animal. It travels about 43,000 miles every year from pole to pole so that it will experience summer in both the southern and northern hemisphere.
- African Wildebeest – migrate because of water and food availability
- Monarch Butterflies – for food and breeding grounds
(There are many videos online that have examples of many types of migrations. Also, there are some clips from Planet Earth that highlight migrations as well.)
People do not know the exact methods that animals use to help them to navigate. However, there are several theories.
- Some birds use the magnetism of the earth to migrate. Similar to an internal compass!
- Birds use landmarks such as shorelines and mountain ranges
- Birds may navigate using the sun, moon, and stars
- Birds may learn where to go from their parents. Sometimes, if birds are raised in captivity, people need to teach them how to migrate. Check out this David Attenborough video about whooping cranes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYyLgpetelg
For more about bird migrations, visit nnageotte.wix.com/birds
Before practicing compasses at camp, we will learn how they work by making our own compass. Visit the following site for directions on how to create your own compass.
Now that you know how to create a compass and have a basic idea about how compasses work, you are ready to practice navigating at Heartland!
- COMPASS: A tool used to determine directions. The needle of a compass points to the north.
- NAVIGATION: The process of an individual finding their way from point A to point B.
- MAGNETIC FORCE: A force caused by the electricity in the atoms of an item (usually a metal). It tends to attract or push away other magnetic objects.
- MAGNETIC POLE: The two places on earth (North and South) with the strongest magnetic force.
- BASE PLATE: The flat parts of the compass. Always keep the base plate parallel with the ground. If it is perpendicular, it will read incorrectly.
- DIAL: The movable circle that has the degrees of the circle listed. Explain that the numbers are called degrees or bearing.
- DEGREES: A circle is divided into 360 degrees. Each longer line stands for 10 degrees and each smaller line stands for 2 degrees. An angle is made of degree and shows how far away from North you are. As you increase in degree you increase your angle. North = 0 or 360, East = 90, South = 180, and West = 270. More precision can be gained by using actual degrees instead of north, south, east and west.
- NEEDLE: The red needle always points north. Never follow the red needle unless you want to go north. Follow the direction of the travel arrow, which will be discussed later. The black part of the needle is used for backtracking, which we will not do.
- ORIENTATION ARROW: The arrow on the base of the dial, usually with stripes.
- DIRECTION OF TRAVEL ARROW: The arrow on the base plate that points forward. This should always point in the same direction of their toes or straight out from their belly button.
Parts of a Compass Worksheet