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At WSD, we believe the nature and process of developing scientific knowledge is based on actually doing science in the classroom. This past term, 7th grade was deep into its unit of Physics, studying invisible forces by building their own electromagnets. Students used observational evidence to describe the nature of invisible fields by building, testing and writing up their experiences with electromagnets.

The invisible forces that power electromagnets are a unique combination of electricity and magnetism, giving students an opportunity to study both types of invisible forces. Studying electromagnets to visualize invisible forces might sound simple, but in this task students needed to create “super electromagnets,” using all sorts of leftover junk — hex bolts, galvanized nails, repurposed lamp wiring — to make them stronger. As 7th grader Regan Morgan observed,

It was cool to realize that the things we use every day, like refrigerators, use electromagnets.

To solidify their understanding of these complex forces, students are writing up their findings in a formal scientific lab report, modeled off of professional scientific papers.

“Reading about how to make an electromagnet stronger is one way to learn about them, but I actually got to make my electromagnet stronger, which made more sense to me,” reflected Micah Sheinberg. “It was cool to see that my electromagnet works exactly like how real electromagnets work. The forces that interact were actually in front of us.”

Yay, hands on science!