Eureka! Genius Hour in the Perez Elementary Library


Today’s Contributor: Randi Sather

Randi is the Librarian and CIC at Perez Elementary. Contact me at randi.sather@austinisd.org or @PerezReads.


Heard of Genius Hour?

The idea of Genius Hour is credited to Google, which gives their engineers 20% of their time to work on projects they are interested in. The Genius Hour movement has also been adopted by many schools, teachers, and librarians as an avenue to give students more opportunities to explore their interests and ignite their curiosity.

Genius Hour in the Perez Library

We are just a month into our new Genius Hour library programming and the students, teachers, and families couldn’t be more excited! Each day in the library we host small groups by grade level for Genius Hour during their recess/lunch times- this way students aren’t missing class time and we are able to serve all students. Students will attend Genius Hour for 3 sessions on a topic of their choice and then are encouraged to continue working on their projects at home. Our goal is to offer Genius Hour to every Perez student PreK-5th grade at least once this school year.

What are the Geniuses doing?

For our first round of Genius Hour, students are working on…

5th & 4th grade: 3D printing
Students design a personalized keychain using Tinkercad and then we print students’ designs on our Maker Bot 3D printer for them to keep.

3dprinter

3rd grade, 2nd grade, Kinder: Coding

            Students are working through Course 1 on code.org. Perez students are familiar with this site from our annual Hour of Code week and especially enjoy getting to “play Minecraft” at school!

coding

1st grade & Pre-K: MakerSpace/STEM challenges

            Pre-K students are designing their names with recycled objects (straws, toilet paper tubes, string, etc.). First grade students are working through a variety of STEM challenges: 1- build the tallest tower using only straws, string, and tape 2- build a wall with legos that can’t be blown over by a fan 3- build a bridge that can support weight using only toilet paper tubes, straws, paper, and tape.

STEM1STEM2

What do we go from here?

Once we have the Genius Hour program running along smoothly, my next goal is to incorporate ways for students to display their learning. I would like to have students take pictures & videos of their learning process and post these to our library twitter & school facebook page to share with our community. Later in the year, I am hoping to host a Maker Faire family event so that students can show/teach their families & peers what they’ve made.

Final Thoughts

This program has been many years in the making as I’ve thought through my vision, goals, resources, volunteers, schedules, logistics, and other challenges. I am so glad to have finally launched Genius Hour and to already be seeing the impact it is having on students!

Thanks for reading!

6 Comments

  1. Great info! Thanks for sharing. I’m always looking to hear how others incorporate Genius Time into their campus.

  2. It looks like you are doing some great things! Genius hour is a fantastic way to provide students with voice and choice and can be really helpful when scaffolding the use of metacognitive skills.

  3. This is really cool! I’ve heard of Genius Hour, but never have seen it in action. I’d love to talk more with you about the logistically side of running it. Way to go, Randi!

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