When sixth-grade science teacher Necole Hanks launched Genius Hour projects for her classes, she hoped to spark creativity and innovation as students pursued their individual passions. Hanks said she …
When sixth-grade science teacher Necole Hanks launched Genius Hour projects for her classes, she hoped to spark creativity and innovation as students pursued their individual passions. Hanks said she has “the unique privilege of working with an age of students that are still open to trying new things if they feel safe and supported with the idea they cannot fail.”
Kids aimed high with their projects, including two students who set out to walk on water.
“We made these special shoes shaped like small boats that were our attempt to walk on water,” said Ginny Summers, a sixth-grader at Powell Middle School.
Summers got the idea after watching a movie, and worked with partner Caleb Ashcraft.
“I learned from this project that it is incredibly hard to find a working way to walk on water,” Summers said.
Their project worked better for someone 70 pounds or less, she said, but “we need more buoyancy to let someone over 70 pounds walk on water.”
Her favorite part of the project was testing the water shoes.
Another inventive contraption inspired by Genius Hour? A racing lawn mower.
“At first we were going to build a pedal cart, then we decided to build a racing lawn mower because we watched a YouTube video about riding lawn mowers racing,” said Kolby Gates, who worked on the project with Dawson George.
George said he likes to build and design things, and when he saw that they could build a racing lawn mower, “I was all over it.”
“Not only did we have a old mower in the back that we could use, I had a dad who could tell me exactly what to do,” George said.
He learned that different ratios made different speeds for the mower, as well as how to install a rip cord because the starter would not work.
“I think this will help me in the future because one day I will have my own car and if it breaks down I will know what to do because I’m learning how to recognize the problem and fixing the problem,” George said.
He added that he learned a lot of new things while having fun. George thanked his dad for his help, and “Mrs. Hanks for making it possible.”
For Gates, George’s partner in the racing lawn mower project, a favorite part was painting the vehicle camouflage. Gates also learned how to make a “decent” PowerPoint, which he said will be helpful for future school projects. As part of Genius Hour, students presented their final project to their classmates and family members at Northwest College in December.
“I would say that the most challenging part of this was presenting in front of an audience,” Gates said.
By contrast, fellow sixth-grader KeyTon Miler called the presentation in front of the crowd his “most favorite part.”
“I love presenting myself and my hard work,” he said.
Miler wrote a 32-page script about World War II and made a movie trailer.
“The main thing I learned through Genius Hour is that making movie trailers is really hard,” he said. “I learned that I will need the right tools for the job — if I don’t have the right tools, I am scrounging for a way to make the movie trailer.”
Following his presentation last month, a man from the audience visited with Miler about WWII and wanted to help him with research.
“This is exactly my hope for the impact of Genius Hour ... not only getting students excited about their learning but also the bigger impact of connecting students with community members who may share the same passion,” Hanks said.
Logan Badura welded a horse stock and after his Genius Hour presentation, an audience member asked Badura about patenting his idea and if he wanted to go into business together.
Hanks said she was “very excited” to see the outreach impact on a few of the audience members.
A total of 124 students completed a Genius Hour project.
Korbyn Warren turned his Genius Hour idea into a science fair project that he will present at the regional science fair on Friday at Northwest College.