This is my second year that I have incorporated Genius Hour into my middle school English classroom. Every Friday is dedicated to my students’ passion projects. This semester we embark on a Genius Hour project where students must build it, create it, or do something. To spark creativity, build community, and get students excited about genius hour students participate in a variety of STEM based challenges every other month. My students love these challenges and it is always fun to watch their creative thinking and problem solving skills unfold. Here are some of the STEM challenges that my students have completed so far this year.
1. Spaghetti Tower Challenge – Each group gets 20 pieces of raw spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and a marshmallow. Students are to build the highest, free standing structure that holds the marshmallow on the top of the tower.
2. Save Fred Challenge – Fred has been spending his summer boating on the great lakes. However, he’s not too bright (Fred is a gummy worm). He’s never learned how to swim, and he never wears his life preserver. The worst has happened! His boat has capsized and he’s stuck! Fortunately, his life preserver is in the boat, but unfortunately he does not know how to reach it without falling off and drowning. Using a plastic cup to represent the boat and a gummy life saver to represent the life preserver, students must save Fred using only 4 paper clips. Students may not touch Fred, the boat, or the life preserver directly with their hands.
3. Sink or Swim Challenge – Students create a boat using tin foil that will hold as many pennies as possible. The boat should float in the water with the pennies and not sink.
4. House Challenge – Students build a house using nothing but 2 sheets of paper, 2 band aids, two paperclips, and two sticks of gum.
Want to know more about Genius Hour?
The awesome Joy Kirr, teacher and My Own Genius Hour blogger, will be a guest facilitator discussing all things Genius Hour and Passion Projects. Joy facilitates #genius chats on Twitter and blogs extensively about igniting passion in the classroom. She has a wealth of resources regarding genius hour and we hope that you will join us for this twitter chat.