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Make a water compass and Engineer a great Summer

make your own water compass

With two inquisitive children I am constantly on my toes keeping them engaged and active, especially during the summer holidays. I’ve shared a few resources to keep the dreaded brain drain away and wanted to tell you about The Holiday Makers, a website with fun, free, family friendly activities to keep the kids aged 7-16 busy and minds sharp over the summer holidays.

Engineer a great Summer with the Year of Engineering

The Holiday Makers website is part of the Year of Engineering, a year-long initiative celebrating the wonderful world of engineering and encouraging young people to get involved. Every week a different challenge is shared on the site. It’s so simple to get involved and take a closer look at the breadth, depth and creativity of engineering careers along the way.

The Holiday Makers website  is jam-packed with free engineering-inspired activities and weekly challenges with some great prizes up for grabs. You can browse the events map to find inspiring events and days out across the UK, interactive workshops, exhibitions and the chance to go behind the scenes at places like the BBC to see engineering in action. You can also get your own journal, collect badges and share progress with your friends and family.

Every week a different challenge is shared on to The Holiday Makers site. It’s so simple to get involved and take a closer look at the breadth, depth and creativity of engineering along the way.

Create a water compass challenge

This weeks challenge was to create a water compass. This was part of the Desert Island Invention Challenge, the third of six weekly challenges that are being run this summer. This wasn’t something we had ever tried before but it was pretty simple to gather the supplies – a shallow dish filled with water, a paper clip, a leaf and magnet. It was a great excuse to get outside and the children had fun looking for colourful Summer leaves.

Create a water compass challenge

My children each took a paper clip and straightened it out. Then they took it in turns to magnetise the paper clip by running the magnet along it 50 times.

straightening paper clips

My son found the compass from his den kit to make sure we knew where North was and we marked this on a piece of paper pointing it the right way. Then we carefully pushed the straightened paper clip through a leaf and placed it on the surface of the water.

making a water compass

Slowly the leaf turned and the paperclip pointed North as the paperclip was magnetised and aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field, making a line between North and South.

making a compass

It was amazing watching their faces light up as they saw what happened, it’s a simple experiment which uses every day objects, but is great for engaging your child’s curiosity and sense of fun.

This was part of the Desert Island Invention Challenge, the third of six weekly challenges that are being run this summer. It’s one of a range of activities on the website that can earn you a stamp for your journal. Take part in the weekly challenges for your chance to win prizes.

Get involved with The Holiday Makers challenges this summer

Have you ever made your own compass before? If not why not try out the challenge of the week? If you enter the challenge and share photos of your completed challenges on social media you will have the chance to win some amazing prizes too. Follow the progress of The Holiday Makers using #TheHolidayMakers on social!

You can find the previous challenges on The Holiday Makers website along with the online the map that lists events across the UK. We’re so lucky living in London that there are lots of events to choose from, such as the Engineer Your Future gallery at the Science Museum, but events are running all over the country. There’s something for kids aged 7 up to 16 and it’s so easy to introduce them to engineering and have fun!

Disclosure – post in collaboration with The Holiday Makers


  • Reply
    August 10, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    This looks like an interesting project to keep the children entertained during the holidays. Mine would love to try this too.

  • Reply
    Kacie Morgan
    August 11, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    This looks like a fun yet also educating task for children to get involved in. Great stuff!

  • Reply
    Rebecca | AAUBlog
    August 11, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    wow what an amazing idea to try over summer 🙂 This sounds like a great way to keep little minds working

  • Reply
    Yeah Lifestyle
    August 11, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    This sounds like such a great experimental activity to do with the children this summer. How cool that it aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field

  • Reply
    Eva Katona
    August 12, 2018 at 9:36 am

    This is such a fun and brilliant idea! Great for a rainy day.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    I really like activities that get kids to think and work things out for themselves. This one looks so fun and fits the bill perfectly! xxx

  • Reply
    August 13, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    What a brilliant idea and a fun indoor activity for rainy days. I can do this with my son before the summer break ends.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    We have been loving doing these challenges, will have a go at this one tomorrow

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