It's absolutely amazing what a seventh grader will do when properly motivated.
Because, you see, they aren't motivated by the things they should be motivated by. Taking pride in doing a good job doesn't do it. Getting a good grade doesn't do it. Actually being interested in the subject doesn't do it. Nope, none of those things do it.
However, if you tell the little critters that There's No Way On This Earth I'm Letting You Touch a Two Hundred Dollar Microscope Unless You Pass the Microscope Test, they'll get motivated.
So these little twerps, including some who maybe never got higher than a 50% on a test in my class (and if that isn't pathetic, I don't know what is), actually studied and passed the test. And I know this because they told me. For some of them it was the first time they even bothered to study.
All because they want to look at tiny things with a microscope.
Now you would think that they might, just might, get a clue that "hey, this studying thing really pays off," but chances are they won't. We used to teach this unit towards the beginning of the year and we'd all point out, "See what you can do if you try," and it always went in one ear and right out the other. And they'd go back to their old pattern of failing because they just didn't care.
But give a kid a chance to look at his or her own hair with a microscope and they'll walk across fire.