Genius Hour challenges students

Bermudian Springs School District  |  Posted on

Bermudian Springs Elementary School (BSES) just finished their second year of offering Genius Hour as an after school program. Genius Hour is an opportunity sparked by Google’s 20% Time, which calls for students to let their curiosities and passions drive their own learning. Students not only decide what they want to learn, but also how they learn and where their learning takes them. Students may spend time researching natural disasters, or learning to code on a computer, or designing and making their own clothing. This is a time for students to explore their own interests, not necessarily the ones those presented in the classroom, and encourages the creativity to express their learning. Students are challenged to choose a topic, research and explore it, and then decide how they will share their learning. Genius Hour is meant to ignite learning at every level and fuel learning in students who are curious about the world and how it works.

This year BSES had more than 60 students in third and fourth grade who worked after school once a week to explore and investigate their passions. The students worked with nine different “coaches” from the elementary school staff who helped support students’ learning and facilitate an environment of learning for everyone. Students this year spent their time researching robots, the Hawaiian culture, gravity and the Northern Lights. Their Genius Hour may have consisted of learning how to code video games, designing their own Pokemon cards, sewing clothing, communicating via FaceTime with published authors and artists, and creating a campaign to collect necessities for the homeless. Genius Hour ended with a student showcase, where students were able to share their passions and their learning with teachers, administrators and family members in whatever way they decided. Presentations included fashion shows, tornado demonstrations, digital portfolios, magic shows and art demonstrations. The night was an amazing show of student-led learning and allowed students to show the pride they took in their completed work. Genius Hour coach and fourth-grade teacher Mac Gosnell commented on the showcase and the whole process: “Seeing the students create based on their passions was inspiring. Even if they did not get the results they initially expected they were invested enough to persevere and keep going.”