Genius Hour 2019-2020 Installment

Our Passion Projects for Term 1 are complete!

It’s always so fascinating to see the ideas that come out of young people when they are given space to explore what they’re interested in and to proudly share their learning with their peers. This is my 3rd year of Passion Projects, for which the students are given 60 minutes – an hour of Genius time – every week to work in class. During their weekly “Genius Hour”, they get to practice their time management and research skills. The hope here is that their ability to engage in self-directed learning will be transferred to future endeavors, especially as they grow up and structured learning environments are a thing of the past.

Outside of our in-class Genius Hour, the project is to be completed at home for an oral communication mark when they share what they learned.

I’m always impressed by their ingenuity. Here are some examples this time around!


The Venerable Van Gogh – the same student who gifted me a painting of Totoro recreated Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. So talented. 🖼️🖌️ You better believe it’s placed high up on my shelf behind my desk, proudly on display.


Ecosystem in a Jar – one student took some moss from his backyard and grew an ecosystem in an enclosed space. He went into a lot of detail, and was able to explain how the moisture within the jar allows the ecosystem to sustain itself. This is the same kid who wants to be a Paleontologist one day. I think he’s well on his way 😊

One student hilariously set out to prove that babies do not actually look like their parents; we just think so because we know who the baby’s parents are. So he took a photo of his aunt and uncle, took a photo of their baby, and mixed in photos of 7 other babies.


He then showed people their photos and had 70 random people guess which baby belonged to the parents. He polled the class as well, and then used Google Sheets (online form of excel) to create a circle graph on the spot, visually demonstrating the proportion of people who guessed incorrectly. It was such a clever application of what we were doing in math class.

You can probably read between the lines and figure out that most people guessed wrong!

There was also a study of Elton John and his career, the human brain, and the Rube Goldberg Machine. We even learned that the guillotine was a popular children’s toy! Here are some snapshots of their presentations.





Every single one of their projects were notable in their own right, and I’m so excited to see what the kids choose to learn about and discover next. They were given time today to start thinking about their Term 2 Passion Projects, which are due in June. I’ll be sure to share with you all what they come up with.

Stay tuned!




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