Student Aided Magnetic Mapping

Using Variations in Magnetic Field for Navigation

Evelyn J. Boettcher

May 5th, 2023


  • Why is a magnetic anomaly map needed
  • What is magnetic anomaly
  • How are magnetic maps made now
  • How students contribute to science
    • Targeted grades 8-10
  • What students gain
    • Paid milestone achievements
    • Scientific contributor
    • Science mentors near their age
  • How to be involved

NASA (1976)

Why are
Magnetic anomaly Map needed

Why are
Magnetic anomaly Map needed


Why are
Magnetic anomaly Map needed


(DALL-E (2023))

(DALL-E (2023))

GPS is not Always Reliable

It is too easy for bad actors (aka Pirates) to spoof GPS signals to divert cargo ships or airplanes. There are growing concerns that the shipping industry is vulnerable to GPS spoofing (Lo (2019))

GPS spoofing has the real risk of keeping ships at sea longer than necessary, or even causing ships to collide.

These same concerns are amplified in the aviation industry.
In addition, planes to worry about being tricked into flying into dangerous no fly zones.

GPS: Proceed for 10 more miles

GPS:Proceed for 10 more miles (Choksi (2016))

Earth’s Magnetic Field

Endo (n.d.)

Earth’s Magnetic Field

NASA (1976)

  • Earth Field: 25,000nT - 65,000nT (nanotesla)
  • MRI’s: 1 Tesla = 1,000,000,000 nT

NOAA (2020)

Magnetic anomaly

The Earth’s Magnetic Field has variations do to field locked in it’s crust.

  • These fields change very slowly
    • Geologic Timescale (~20,000 year time scale)

USGS (2002)

Magnetic anomaly

NASA (1976)

USGS (2002)

Magnetic Fields

  • Earth Field: 25,000nT - 65,000nT (nanotesla)
  • Bar Magnet = 1,000,000nT (200X Earth Field)
  • MRI’s: 1 Tesla (40,000X Earths Field)

Magnetic Anomaly

  • \(\pm\) 500nT

Anomaly is much,
much smaller!

Why make another map

Why make another map

Current maps are low resolution.

Need higher resolutions for navigation

Why Higher Resolutions

Can you use this map to drive to the grocery store?

Google_Maps (n.d.)

USGS (2002)

How a Magnetic Maps are Made Now

Maps are made using special equipped planes.

  • It is a slow process and
  • Data needs to be cleaned to remove the
    plane’s magnetic field.

alt Nielsen (2023)

Vaughn (2021)

DALL-E (2023)


99 Weather Balloon

altDALL-E (2023)

How Far can a balloon go?

Pico balloons can circumnavigate the world several times

Brown (2020)

Now Back to the STEM

Why do Students have
low STEM interest

Many students do not see the value nor the purpose of a STEM education.

Why no interest?

  • STEM activities tend to be focused on a single aspect of a scientific field.
    • Students do not shout out Eureka after seeing how many pennies an aluminum boat can hold. They simply record the number of pennies and wonder how this knowledge is useful in the real world.

  • Few opportunities for students to see how scientists do experiments to make the world better.
  • Few interactions with Scientist, especially in lower income brackets,
    • One needs role models to help one visualize that this career can be for them.
  • Don’t see how one can make a living doing science.

STEM Magnetic Mapping

This STEM project is designed to address these issues.

It involves multiple fields of science and engineering:

  • Earth Science,
  • Physical Science and
  • Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

Integrated into a single project for students grades eight through ten.

It also rewards (via milestone achievements rewards: cash and/or prizes) for their work and their measurements supply scientists with information needed to make magnetic maps.

Lastly, students are guided by college student mentors in a STEM field so that they can see people close to their age going into this field.

Magnetic Mapping Flow

How to be involved

Looking for Ohio schools teachers to partner with to:

  • Evaluate kits 2023-2024


Evelyn J. Boettcher

### Magnetic anomaly Mapping for Safer Navigation


Brown, Bill. 2020. “Send an Amateur Radio Balloon Around the World.” 2020.
Choksi, Nishant. 2016. “Death by GPS.” The Guardian. 2016.
DALL-E, Evelyn J. Boettcher. 2023. “Dall-e Generated Image Through Prompts.” 2023.
Endo, K. n.d.
Google_Maps. n.d.
Lo, Chris. 2019. ‘Ship Navigation Risks: Defining the Threat of GPS Spoofing.’ Ship Technology. 2019.
NASA. 1976. 1976.
Nielsen, Aaron. 2023. 2023.
NOAA. 2020. 2020.
USGS. 2002. 2002.
Vaughn, Stacy. 2021. 2021.