Genius Hour has Begun!

Today I introduced Genius Hour to the 5th grade classes at my school. This was also my first time meeting with the 5th grade students at my school and introducing them to the MakerSpace Lab.  I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive starting with a fresh group of students, but was I wrong!  It was so refreshing to teach fifth graders. Compared to the younger grades I had been recently teaching, they were so independent, focused, and well… just older.

I enthusiastically welcomed them to the Maker Lab and introduced the idea of “Genius Hour”. I explained that this was a time for them!  Genius Hour will happen weekly for 5th graders. They will use this time to explore, research, create, and be curious. I shared with that big tech companies often give their employees a Genius Hour to work on a “Passion Project”.  They were instantly drawn in.  They could choose!  They could create!  They could pick something that they wanted to know more about!  They couldn’t wait to get started!

For the first Genius Hour, we guided the students. Their teacher and I came up with 8 questions that related to a recent science unit.  Here is the prompt that the students were given:

After completing the “Becoming Banneker” science unit, you may still have some unanswered questions.  Or, you may want to know more about a new topic.  Maybe, you are just curious about something from the unit. 

Take a look at the list below. Circle up to 3 topics that interest you and you would like to learn more about.

  1. How do G.P.S. systems work?
  2. How does the U.S. Military use G.P.S.?
  3. Research the job of a surveyor. Compare & Contrast the job of a surveyor in the 1800s with the job today.
  4. Why was Greenwich chosen at the prime meridian?
  5. How is the equator used as a location marker?
  6. How were the patterns of the sky used in early cultures to gain knowledge for gardening and farming?
  7. How was Ephemeris data used in the 1800s? How is it used today?
  8. Research the history of the Famers Almanac. How was it used in the 1800s? How is it used today?

We gave the students an hour to work. We explained that they would research their topic independently. We provided links to various sources so they could find information. They recorded their facts in their journals. I shared that they would spend the first 30 minutes of class researching their question. They could spend the second half of class “making”. I provided many ideas of how they could create a model, visual, or prototype that went with their research topic.

You will be given time to research one of these topics. After researching, you will have time to create something in the Maker Lab that shows your “new learning”. Some ideas that you could make might be:

  1. Using the recyclable materials to create a model/scene about your research
  2. Use the LEGO kits to build a scene about your research.
  3. Create a PowerPoint presentation about your research.
  4. Make a video to share your research
  5. Make a poster to share your research

Any other ideas?  Be creative

Man, I was surprised! Most students used more than 30 minutes to research. Some used the entire hour!  Many were only left with 10 to 15 minutes to start creating a project to accompany their research.  This made me so happy. They loved the learning component of this lesson so much! They got a lot out of it. I will be letting  the 5th graders use their next class with me to work on their hands-on portion of the Genius Hour. They will present to their classmates their findings!  I have a good feeling about Genius Hour. I’m so excited to bring it to the Maker Space!

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