Polk County Middle School seventh graders in Stephanie Gilbert’s social studies class recently took part in a lab-style experiment to get hands-on experience with different forms of government.

The students rotated through four stations, acting in each as if part of a different form of government. The stations included experiments in a republic, democracy, dictatorship and monarchy.

While at the stations representing authoritarian-type governments, someone in the group became the dictator or monarch, and that changed the way that the group had to work together. In the republic, there was one elected representative, and in the democracy everyone in the group had to vote on each decision.

At each station, the group had to complete a task, building the tallest tower. Some groups found this to be easier than others because of the behaviors they had to exhibit based on their type of government.