Genius Hour is a powerful tool that every educator should be implemented in their class.
How it works is very simple. Students decide on a project that they can work on independently or with other students during a specific time period in the classroom.
When we ask kids to think outside of the box, we must also allow them to be encouraged to do it in a way that suits their personality. This is where the genius hour comes into place.
The basic idea of genius hour is for students to choose a topic about which they want to learn, explore, and create something new.
Genius Hour allows kids to be creative and innovative. It allows them to learn more about things that interest them than what they were required to learn in class.
They can also use their creativity and skills in language arts, math and science during this time to research, develop questions, create projects and solve problems around the subject of their choice.
Purpose of Genius Hour
The main purpose of Genius Hour is to allow students to learn deeply through inquiry on topics they find interesting. This type of learning allows students to become invested in what they are wanting to learn about because it comes from within them.
In addition, the Genius hour also helps in,
Motivation and engagement – students will be engaged in their learning because they will be doing research on a topic that interests them.
Student choice and voice – students get to choose what they learn. They can go as broad or as narrow as they wish with the topic and decide how deep they want to research.
Creativity – this is time for kids to express themselves through writing, art, or video on a topic that is important to them.
Collaboration – during Genius Hour, students can come together and share their passions. This may lead to group projects, sharing of ideas, and brainstorming sessions.
Teacher collaboration – teachers can collaborate with each other within the same school or from different schools around the world. They can learn from each other’s Genius Hour projects and share resources.
Steps to Include Genius Hour in Your Classroom
There are many ways to include genius hour into your classroom schedule. It can be a weekly hour-long activity, a daily 30-minute session, or even an entire class period once a month. Find what works best for your classroom.
Here are some steps that you can take to conduct a Genius Hour in your classroom:
Step 1: Introduce the Idea to the Class
Explain to your students what Genius Hour will be like and what you expect of them. I also made sure to talk about how Genius Hour is a time for them to learn about things they love, not just Google things they already know!
Make sure that students understand the purpose and value of Genius Hour.
Step 2: Brainstorm & Finalize the Topics with Students
Allow time for students to brainstorm ideas. Consider using a tool such as Peardeck or Socrative to help them narrow down their ideas to just one.
Have students do some sort of interest survey. I chose to have them fill out a short questionnaire on Google Forms.
This allowed me to sort their responses by interest, so I could easily tell which the most popular topics and which students were interested in the same things.
Break into groups with similar interests and research together.
I decided that each group would need a minimum of three students since they would be working together on their projects at the end of this phase as well.
You can also allow students to work independently without a group setting.
Have students decide on a final topic and start working on their project.
I think it’s important for kids to pick their own topics because it makes them more invested in their own learning. (It’s also important for teachers to make sure that the projects are feasible!)
Step 3: Create the Product / Complete the Project
Let your students Continue working on projects for the next several weeks during Genius Hour time (which can be once or twice a week – 30 mins or 1 Hour).
Give students time, space and materials to work on their projects.
Students can work individually or in small teams depending on the type of project they are doing.
Provide support and guidance as needed throughout the process.
Check-in with students regularly to help them stay on track and answer any questions they may have along the way.
Step 4: Assessment / Share the Project Outcome or Product Created
Allow students to choose how they want to share their learning.
Students should share their learnings with the class in some way — whether that be a formal presentation or an informal chat with classmates about what they learned during the process.
The outcome should be measured in terms of the learning that the student has achieved not by any other means.
Ideally, the whole exercise should help them develop interests that are personal and meaningful to them. Nothing else matters.
Why is it important to let kids come up with their own ideas?
Allowing kids to choose their topic allows a new dimension of learning. For example, it would be difficult for me as an adult to learn about the solar system because I know so much about it already.
But if I had been interested in that topic as a child, and if my parents or teachers had helped me expand on that interest and create learning opportunities, I might still find that topic interesting now and have learned even more than I did in school.
In addition, they are more likely to complete the project. If kids choose the project, they are going to work on during Genius Hour, they will be far more excited about it than if an adult chooses it for them.
This is important; without completion, students miss out on the chance to publish their work and share it with others who might be interested as well!
Role of a Teacher
The role of a teacher in Genius Hour includes the following:
Be a Facilitator
The role of a teacher in Genius Hour is to create an environment that allows students to discover their interests and ability, and also to provide great feedback on work that has been produced.
Transfer ownership to students while helping them maintain the course and stay on task. Because it is so important for our students to feel empowered in their learning.
It means taking risks in their learning and exploring topics that are of interest to them.
It also means that they need to be able to self-assess and revise their work based on where they think they should be going with it rather than where I think they should be going with it.
Be a Guide / Coach
Teach Students How to Research.
When students are working on their projects, as a teacher you can be there to guide them through each step and make sure they are staying on track with their work.
Teachers should be extremely approachable, and willing to listen and respond to students’ ideas and questions.
Teachers should also share what they know about their subjects in order to help students develop those interests.
You can also have many discussions with each student and assess learning by looking at student work samples or discussing student thinking and learning along the way.
Provide students with the tools, books, websites, apps, people and spaces that they need to be successful.
Manage Time / Be Accountable
It is the teachers’ responsibility to be a gatekeeper of time and be accountable for the outcome.
Work with each student so that they complete the whole process in time and be able to present it back to the class.
Create and maintain an environment of trust and respect.
It is ok to watch what they are doing and provide feedback occasionally. However, ensure that the students stay on track with the chosen topic.
Make sure the students reflect on their learning process.
Role of a Student in Genius Hour
It is important for students to understand the role they play in Genius Hour. They will be asked to take on different roles as the learning process moves along. There are three main roles that students can play during Genius Hour:
The student(s) who will be responsible for organizing and managing the project from beginning to end. This role may change as the project progresses.
The leader might also have a hand at making, but this person must have a vision or goal for the group.
The person who designs the finished product of the project. This could be someone who makes something that is tangible, like building a model or designing an app. Or it could be someone who organizes an event and works out all of the details to get it set up and implemented.
This person needs to have good ideas, creative thinking skills and problem-solving skills.
The student on the team researches information and data related to the topic or issue being explored by the team.
This person needs to be a critical thinker and good with technology so that he or she can research topics thoroughly and evaluate sources for accuracy and bias.
Genius Hour Ideas
Genius Hour Ideas (Gradewise)
If you are a student/teacher from Grade 1-10, and you are looking for some interesting ways to spend your Genius Hour, here is a list of ideas that you can use.
Genius Hour Ideas for Elementary
- How to do … (anything!)
- Birds in Georgia
- My family tree
- How to take care of a pet
- What I want to learn about this year
- Animals in the wild
- How to plant a garden
- Favourite book characters
- Writing letters to family members or friends (or video chat)
- Favourite books or authors
- How letters make words and words make sentences
- How to make paper planes
- How to make a kite
- How to make cupcakes
- How to draw a rose
- How to draw a bicycle
- Birds of North America
- Learn – Why are tornadoes so destructive
- Take a good photograph
- Explore stars
- How to bind a book
- How to make paint
- How to make ink
- Make a playdough
- Learn about volcanos
- Learn about turtles
- Sew a dress for a doll
- Make Jewelry
- Knit a sweater
- Write a chapter book
- Learn the causes that make the days get longer and shorter
- Learn how the heart pumps blood across the body
- Learn to knit
- Learn to crochet
- How to solve Rubix cube
- Learn to set up a garden and grow plants
- Make homemade slime
- Research a historical place or event
- Explore an animal’s habitat.
- How the world is rotating and why we don’t feel it
- What makes birds fly
- From where do butterflies get their colours
- Make a photo collage book.
- Ways to help endangered animals
- How to make natural compost
Genius Hour Ideas for Middle School
- Learn how the moon affects the Earth
- Conduct a science experiment
- Understand the effect seasons have on our planet
- How to create a map
- Learn how to do Origami
- Do a community service
- Use natural colours to dye clothes
- Create your own toy
- Read and discuss World Wars
- Become a magician
- Learn to do ice skating
- Contribute to environmental protection
- Learn to become a Lego master builder
- Enquire – how are dreams made
- Learn to create a PowerPoint presentation
- Create a lesson plan
- Create a new course (for your favourite hobby like sewing, knitting, etc.)
- Learn to do a puppet show
- Create a new recipe
- Make a website for the class website.
- Write a short story
- Write a skit
- Write a speech
- Study about Carnivorous plants
- How pollination helps
- Disassemble and assemble a mechanical device
- Code a computer game
- Learn to create a website or blog
- Learn about the reasons some animals are extinct
- Teach someone how a thermos work
- What role does science play in music, sport or another hobby?
- History of NFL
- Science behind golf
- Global Warming
- Find a solution to reduce the litter in your school permanently
- Learn how does the brain work
- Different foods from different parts of the world
- Learn to play the guitar
- Design a book cover
- Start a school club
- How glasses are made
- Create a movie trailer with PowerPoint
- Learn to dance
- Create new cartoon characters
- Do a renewable energy project
- Find new ways for energy conservation
- Run a charity event (concert, run, walk, drive, etc.)
- Learn and teach a coding lesson
- Explore and explain how a phenomenon works (electricity, cyclone, volcano, solar energy, etc.)
- Conduct a virtual field trip
- Build a remote car
- Create a basic electronic circuit
- Research future career ideas
- Research how to make something
- Learn a new language
- Learn to do Yoga
- Develop a science group for middle school
- Write a song
- Learn to skateboard
- Discover effective ways to lose weight
- Conduct a social experiment
- Make a short movie
- Create a…. out for recyclables
- Discover ways to balance my budget
- Learn about the causes and preventions of cancer
- Make people aware of global warming
- learn how to create an app
- Benefits of Electric cars
- How is Plastic made
- How Aerodynamics affect football game
- Learn to create a video game
- Create a campaign to reduce bullying in my school
- How clothes are made
- Write a book
- Explore the need for sleep
- Why seat belts are important
- Discuss the future of schools
- Why bees die after they sting
- Write a poem
- Create and run an online newspaper for your school
- Write a script
- Run a fundraising project
- Create a Claymation video
- Create a concert video
- Make a YouTube video
- Write a song
- Interview a famous personality
- Create a manifesto for your school club
- Design a pamphlet for your school event
- Photography exhibition
- How to recycle…
- How to remove plastic from the sea
- Make a stop-motion movie
- Make people aware of the dangers of smoking
- Explore how the mind works
- Create a wellness plan
- design a textbook that is exciting
- Learn to become a professional sportsperson
- What exactly happens when a bone heals after being broken?
- Build a sustainable garden that provides ingredients to reduce our food expenses
- Create your own board game
- Explore the theories behind the origin of the world
- Learn how stock markets work
- Make a musical out of a storybook
- Create a google break-out room
- Make music
- Research whether different colours change the opinions/moods
- Invent a language
- Create a new sport or game
- How to prevent animal abuse
- Animal Shelter
- How to design accessible building plans
- Study and Understand Cancer
- Study on Homeless People
- Ways to prevent Alzheimer’s
Genius Hour Ideas for High School
- Study fashion and start a YouTube channel
- Learn sign language
- Lean on the impact of technology on human life
- Explore the concepts behind black holes formation
- Create an art
- Explore Self Driving Cars
- Write a script for a short film
- Dive into photography and become an IG influencer
- Create your own invention
- Are vaccines safe?
- Understand the importance of DNA
- Learn to understand Virtual Reality
- How to resolve Video Game Addiction
- Conduct an event in school
- Discover solutions for the world’s biggest problems like poverty, pollution, etc.
- Study climate change and start a student-driven nonprofit
- Learn how to make sourdough bread and start a small bakery business
- Learn a new language
- Explore video game design
- Start your own Podcast
- Learn how to build furniture
- Learn to do Vlog
- Plan and create a 3D printing structure
- Watch / Plan for a Ted Talk
- Learn to become an author
- Learn to become a master chef
- What are the challenges in travelling to mars?
- Create a new product
- Design a store along with business plan
- Create your own robot
- Research on how to start a business
- Draw an original cartoon about what you like to do at school or what you’re proud of doing in your life.
- Learn to fill out applications and apply for an interview
Genius Hour Ideas Based on Subject
Math Genius Hour Ideas
Math is a difficult subject for many people, so it can be difficult to find genius hour idea for math. These are some of the best math-based projects that people have worked on during their Genius Hour.
- Write a math poem
- Create a math puzzle
- Write a math joke or limerick
- Create a math magic trick
- Create a math invention
- Create an artwork based on the Fibonacci Sequence or Golden Ratio
- Share the history of your favourite mathematical theory and/or mathematician.
- The Golden Ratio: Build sculptures using this ratio in nature and art.
- Design a math-themed T-shirt (and sell it)
- Make a math video game
- Explain how your use of a specific mathematical concept has changed your life.
- Demonstrate how to apply a mathematical concept to a real-world problem.
- Explain how you would teach someone else how to use this mathematical concept or idea to solve a problem.
- Explore the history of pi
- Explore the history of zero
- Learn – How to draw a circle without using a protractor
- Learn – How to find the area of a triangle without using a formula
- Find ways to use math in your daily life
- Write your own math textbook
- Learn about the history of numbers and counting systems
- Write a children’s book about mathematics
- Create an app that teaches people about math concepts or helps them solve math problems
- Calculate the probability of winning your favourite lottery game with different combinations of numbers
- Create a colour-by-number picture using fractions as the colours
Animal Genius Hour Ideas
Below are some possible animal genius hour ideas that students have actually completed or have been requested by students in our classroom.
- Research animal communication and create your own way that animals communicate.
- Create a new animal species
- Create a nature journal showing how plants and animals in your area change over the seasons.
- Learn – How to train a dog
- Make a bird feeder and observe the birds that come to it.
- Make a list of all the animals that live in your area and find out about them (habitat, eating habits, etc).
- Observe the insects that live in your neighbourhood and draw a picture of them.
- Find out about bats and how they are important to our ecosystem.
- Find out about endangered species in your state or country and explain why they are endangered. What can be done to protect them?
- Find out about different types of dogs and their purposes – how do they help humans?
- Learn about horses and how they were important to people in the past (and now). What breeds are there? What are they used for?
- Learn more about sharks – what type is the biggest? The smallest? The most dangerous? How many species are there? How do they eat? Do they have babies or lay eggs? Are some species endangered?
- Learn more about penguins – where do they live? What do they eat? Why can’t they
- Learn – Why do birds migrate?
- How does a bird fly? How does a bat fly?
- Why are some animals nocturnal and others are not? What makes an animal nocturnal?
- Create a poster on endangered animals
- Spend time helping at an animal shelter
- Create a poster on different species of whales
- Research animal adaptations
- Make an informational video on cats and dogs
- Write a persuasive essay on why people should adopt pets instead of buying them.
- How does the food chain work?
- Which animals belong to which classifications: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.
- Do animals like music?
Baking genius hour ideas
This list of baking genius hour ideas is meant to inspire and ignite your passion for baking. I hope that these ideas help you get started on your personal project.
- Learn how to make a vegan cake and share the recipe
- Learn how to make a gluten-free cake and share the recipe
- Learn about icing types and write a blog post about it
- Learn about meringue and write a blog post about it
- Learn how to use fondant and write a blog post about it
- Learn how to decorate cakes with fondant
- How to make rainbow cakes
- How to make a birthday cake
- Making pie crust and decorating pies
- How to make hamburger cupcakes and nacho cupcakes
- How to make cake pops
- How to make flowers for a cake and write on a cake
- Learn How to Create Cake Pops
Genius Hour Ideas about Food
I really like food. I know other people who like food as well. So, I thought it might be fun to have a Genius Hour about food.
Maybe we could try baking something new or making a recipe that we’ve never done before. Or maybe, we could look at different types of foods and talk about what people like about them and why they do or don’t like them.
- Create and share recipes that worked for you.
- Create your own recipe book – cookbook.
- Share your cookie recipe with the class, friends, and family members.
- Improve existing recipes (i.e. substituting ingredients)
- Teach others how to bake certain recipes
- How to make homemade ice cream
Here are some things you can research:
- Why do people love junk food? How can you make junk food healthier?
- What makes fast food so unhealthy? What can you do to make fast food healthier?
- What are the health benefits of eating different foods?
- What is the most nutritious snack?
- Why is it important to eat healthily?
- What are some good snacks to have in the classroom?
- How much sugar is in popular beverages?
- What is your favourite fruit? Why do you like it?
- What are some good things to eat during lunchtime at school?
- How can we encourage our classmates to choose healthy foods over junk food?
- Are there any healthy foods that taste bad that we could make taste better? How would we make them better? Can we make them healthier at the same time?
- Which foods are the healthiest for growing brains and bodies and why?
- Find healthier alternatives for some of your favourite high-calorie foods, like swapping full-fat cheese for low-fat cheese, or grilling rather than frying
- The history of your favourite type of cuisine. Where did it come from? How did it spread around the world? What different types exist today?
Baseball genius hour ideas
- The Science of Bat Speed
- The Science of Pitch Velocity
- How to Best Use Video Analysis to Improve your Swing
- How to take care of baseball equipment/clean it/what is the best way?
- What is the history of baseball in America? (video making)
- How to teach the best baseball swing
- How has technology changed the game? (radar guns, cameras, etc.)
- The history of baseball in Japan, Cuba, and other countries.
- The history of your favourite team.
- What is the most important statistic in measuring a pitcher’s success?
Chemistry Genius Hour Ideas
A lot of chemistry teachers are doing genius hour projects in their classes. This is a great way to get students thinking about chemistry and applying what they know and what they want to learn about chemistry.
The following are ideas for Genius Hour Projects in Chemistry:
- How does the concentration of a solution affect its freezing point?
- What is the ideal ratio for homemade slime?
- What is the ideal ratio for homemade silly putty?
- How does the concentration of vinegar affect how long it takes to dissolve an eggshell?
- Does the amount of sugar added to lemonade affect its taste?
- Does the amount of sugar added to lemonade affect its resistance to spoilage?
- How does heating or cooling effect soda pop?
- Can you make candy at home? How much sugar, corn syrup and water do you need? What temperature should the mixture be heated to?
- Make a chemical volcano and explain what happens with different types of acid and bases.
- Explain how to make fireworks and explain the science behind them.
- Explain how dyes work on fabric/paper and then test different chemical compounds to see if they will dye fabric/paper.
- Explain how soap works and then test different chemical compounds to see if they can clean something dirty (dish soap, shampoo, hand soap, etc.).
- Make slime, silly putty, or jello with things from home using chemicals that you can find at home (baking soda and vinegar).
- What is the science of making a cake?
- What is the chemistry of soap making?
- What are the chemical reactions that occur when you cook food?
- Hacking photosynthesis
- Creating a battery out of fruits and veggies
- Making a solar oven to cook with the energy of the sun
- Measuring the pH levels of your favourite drink
- Designing a new way to filter water
- How to make glue from milk
- How to make plastic from milk
- How to make butter from cream
- What are different types of plastic, and how is each one made? Can they be recycled into new products?
- How Does a Battery Work?
DIY genius hour ideas
Check out this list of DIY Genius Hour ideas that could serve as a springboard for your next project:
- How to make a compass
- How to make a water filter
- How to build a wind turbine
- How to make a solar oven
- How to build a solar cell
- How to draw a map
- How to build an app
- How to create a game
- Create with a 3D printer
- Build a drone that can fly for 10 minutes and take pictures.
- Build a robot
- Figure out how to make a machine that can sort your laundry.
- Design a braille typewriter.
- Create a better way to clean up after your dog (or cat, or bird, etc.).
- Make it easier to find your keys.
- Make it easier to park when there is a lot of traffic.
- Make it so you don’t need keys to get into your house or car.
- Come up with an easier way to charge all of your devices at once.
- Create a machine that can sort M&Ms by colour.
- Invent something that makes it easier for people with disabilities to do everyday tasks.