Genius Hour lets students explore their creativity

Fifth-graders Joaquin Cole and Keith Ewart (above) work on a DJ project. Melody Lane Munoz and Evelyn Rodriguez Silva (below) work on a house project for Genius Hour. (Photos by Samantha Bengtson)

Projects include building robots and making music

KING CITY — Fifth-grade students from King City Arts Magnet School have been working on Genius Hour projects since school started and presented their progress Nov. 2.

The Genius Hour began years ago and was inspired by an activity Google created to give their employees a creative outlet. Google would have their staff work on a project for them 80 percent of the time, with the remaining 20 percent devoted to personal projects.

“Twenty percent was to find something that you are passionate about and create something,” said Lisa Nowakowski, fifth-grade teacher. “Teachers highjack it and depending on the level of students, we have Genius Hour.”

In Nowakowski’s, Bret Harrison’s and Ashley Andrews’ classes, the fifth graders could start several different projects.

Some students, however, have selected a project that they have stuck with for multiple weeks.

Fifth-grade students Joaquin Cole and Keith Ewart chose a project involving music, because Cole wants to be a DJ and Ewart enjoys working with drums and the sounds they make.

Students could choose projects that involve art or technology, making a barn or house, or even working on miniature storage containers and more.

Donya Rodriguez, Kayleen Estaban and Jeanette Aguilar are working on a Christmas house as their project.

Last Friday, Nov. 2, they worked on the outside of the structure by using cardboard to put the house together and painted the outside. They said they are excited to decorate the inside in the coming weeks.

At the end of class that day, the students presented a slide show consisting of four or five slides that explained each project, how they were going to complete the project, what materials they needed and if they encountered any problems in completing the project.

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