The things you need for this little experiment are:
- sewing needle (a pin is okay too, but not one with a plastic head, it's oddly balanced)
- a cold one
- bowl or dish
- refrigerator magnet (or any magnet really, including an electromagnet)
It's important not to draw the needle in both directions; pick one direction, and lift the needle, reposition, and repeat. Keep in mind that there are instructions on the internet that say to rub the needle with silk-this is dead wrong. After you've done 40-50 strokes of the needle, take a break and have the cold one. But, when you open it, be very careful to remove the cap by prying up evenly all around the rim-this will leave a cap that's nicely symmetric, and looking like a mini tart tin.
Now, take the needle, and lay it in the middle of the upturned top, and carefully float this in the bowl of water. Within a minute or so, the magnetized needle will align itself with the earth's magnetic field (remember to move the refrigerator magnet away from the bowl!).