The grade 8 class traveled back to 700 BCE when an ancient Greek philosopher observed static electricity for the first time.
The class used ebonite and sheepskin to create a localized charge to pick up paper much like Thales used amber to pick up dust in ancient times.
They then explored different components of a circuit and conditions necessary for electricity to flow. They recreated Hans Christian Orsted's famous experiments and were able to observe that a wire carrying current creates a magnetic field that moves a compass needle and that the shape of the magnetic field is circular. They experimented with an electric bell and a line shaft motor but were most excited by the strange phenomenon of an electromagnet. Almost everyone in the class did their best to separate the top handle from the bottom but had to concede it was impossible when it was connected to the battery.
On the last day of the block, the class built a Voltaic pile much like Alessandro Volta's in 1800. They were asked to observe how their bodies are conductors of electricity and how many people connected in series increased the zing they felt on their tongues. A core group of students showed great determination and stuck around to troubleshoot a stubborn lamp that would not light up from our voltaic pile. After much troubleshooting they got it working.
Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm grade eights!