Genius Hour Blog – Genius Hour Ideas

On Friday my classes made their genius hour topic selections.  At the beginning of the class I told them that I was changing the name of our time together from “Passion Projects” to “Genius Hour”.  They seemed to appreciate the thought of me thinking they were all geniuses.

I pulled up our brainstorming pages from last week and went through them again.  I explained why some of the selections were great and others stunk.  I them told them that we would be selecting our genius hour ideas. I reminded them that if they could answer the question within a few minutes, that the project wasn’t going to have legs and they would need to make another selection.

My classroom doesn’t have computers in it, so we all packed up and went down the hall to the computer lab.  Before allowing them to finalize their selection I turned on the excitement and anticipation of the moment.   I explained to them that very few classes get to pick what they want to learn about, and that they needed to seize the opportunity that was in front of them to make their project the best that it could possibly be.  I then had fill out the Google Form where they would make their genius hour project selection.

As the entries came flying in, I called them up one by one to either approve or deny the project.  I made a big production about it when they were talking with me.  If their project was approved I would say something like, “You’ve been approved!  I really love your idea and think that you are going to do amazing things with it!”  I then sent them on their way with a handshake or a fist bump.  They were excited!

In the spirit of transparency I’m going to list all of the project selections that I received.  I think that it is important to share these topic selections with the world so that they can be used as examples in other classes.  There are some on this list that are great and there are others that aren’t so great.  I decided to let the not so great ones get approved because I wanted them to find out on their own that their project may be too difficult or too easy to research.  They have been told that failure is OK.  They can also change their topic next week if they run into problems with their selections from today.

We have not spent any time discussing the creation part of the genius hour projects.  I’m working on putting together a webpage that students can use that teaches them alternative ways to present an idea other than a poster board.  It’s sad, but posters and power point projects are the only two ways that many students know how to present a project.  I intend to change that!

Genius Hour Ideas – 6th graders

What is the question(s) that you are going to answer over the next several weeks?
To make people aware of how hard farm life is
how does the circulatory system of a horse work?
How to throw a football like a quarterback
how to make homemade plah-doh  for little kids to play with
Can me and Collin create a website from scratch on creating a websites from scratch?
Can me and Beau make a website from scratch while doing a tutorial of it.
How did dinosaurs become the animals we know today.
How the heart works and why we need a heart.
i want to learn more about the old mars rover and how big is it
how babies are formed inside their moms stomach.
I’m am going to research about how the brain works and how it is made and what it is made of.
how to make a bow
I am going to do a project on how to make a bow for your hair .
how did Joe Montana(forty niners)QB get to be himself by getting to the hall of fame and make his jersey
how do rovers work and build a model of the rover
I’m going to be doing my project on how rockets work and I’m going to build a model of it.
How can people see better with glasses than without
How make a homemade arcade game with no electricity.:p
How do babies form inside there mother?
how to a rover and how it works.
How are babies form inside the belly?Not a question good question,but i really want to learn about that.
children’s wolf book
Do you want to make t-shirts,bows?This is the person to see.
I Want To Research How To Go Down A Ramp
How to make an website
I’m going to ask what is makeup made of.
What causes us to forget?
my question is: how do we loose weight in our bodies
How are different types of cancer formed or caused and how they can maybe be cured or if there is a cure.
Black holes…everything about black holes.i want to try to learn every thing about black holes
where are lynx at so that people can buy them cause they are to sell them and earn money for new lynx to have made a preserve to let them live
how is heart cancer caused?
what is the difference between a wild hog and a javalina.
what causes hiv/aids y it kills you
pedriatition studies
do the gnomes from argentina exist
how to rebuild a small engine
How to make a tutu?
How does brain canter spread?
what does Bigfoot and chupacabra actually mean in mythology and in real lifewhere can you find themare they real or mythscan someone in the future actually discover them

what are chupacabras really

is Bigfoot a ape or a man

How can I become a millionaire over night?
How has technology affected the human body?
do the gnomes from argentina exist
My favorite question is “how does crossbreeding animals work?” I also have “what makes people laugh?”, “what caused the Big Bang Theory?”, “how do elements form?”, and “how does the skeletal system heal broken bones?”.
How Does A Plane Fly
my question is : how do trees grow flowers and leaves?
What are the migration routes of the great white shark? How long does it take them to go in a whole route? At what season do they reach at each place they stop at?
How did the universe start?
How to make a car from scratch.
Is bigfooot real
What are all the types of cancer. What can the  doctors do to help.
I am going to bring awareness to littering and polluting.
explain more about black holes
How does your brain connect with your movements?
Bring Awareness:Smoking
how did Roberto Carlos kicked the banana kick,and the 180 degrees kick.
how to increase reaction times and how to increase eye hand coordination.
i want to know what type of stuff is out in space
How does the human color pattern works?
what happens when a meteor hits the earth?how loud is the sound when the meteor hits the earth????
Why are people worried about global warming?
I want to know if the Evolution theory is actually real?
how was the universe form
Learn all there is to know about dolphinss
who built alcatraz
how are children born with autisum.
how can people get healthier and live longer?
how a rocket launcher work
why do black holes suck stuff
y r forgs slimy
What jobs give the most money?
I am going to answer for the next week that how can i look for my project i am trying to research and the project in going to research is “How Are Babies developed” but is i can’t looked for that one i think i might have to change it.
My question is…Why do we shrink when we get old???
what causes cancer and why does it happen.
What are the deadliest fish in the oceans
The questions that i am going to ask is,how was the universe was created and the research i am going to do is how was the sun and the planets in our solar system Mercury,Venus,Earth,Mars,Jupiter,Saturn,Uranus,Neptune,and Pluto.
what are some ways to jump higher in basketball
Why do people get white hairs as they get older and how are they formed.?


Once the students selected their topics they began their research.  This is where I realized that I am going to run into some challenges with with their technology knowledge.  Our school is a Google Apps school.  The problem is that the only training they have ever been given with Google Apps is in my class.  I ran into many issues that I’m going to have to spend some extra time to solve.  Many students were having a hard time remembering passwords.  Even if they were able to get into Google Docs, they weren’t clear how to use a document to save research along the way.  I’m going to spend an extra few days next week teaching them how to utilize their Google Docs account during a research project.  These skills are far more important than Jupiter’s moons, right?

I also found a cool Chrome plugin called Save to Drive that allows students to save websites and media to directly to their Google Drives with one click.  It’s going to really come in handy.

Until next week…


I am an 8th grade science teacher that is passionate about Genius Hour in the classroom. I blog about genius hour, ed tech, and ways to make learning more engaging and fun.

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12 comments on “Genius Hour Blog – Genius Hour Ideas
  1. Pythagorus says:

    Wow! March on, Brave Soldier! Your students are fortunate to have an Explorer for a teacher! Exciting things to come, I am sure.

  2. Really enjoy reading your Genius Hour posts, Chris. When we did our first official Genius Hour project, I found we too ran into a big roadblock in that they really didn’t understand how to use Google for good research. Or they would just look at the pictures and not read the whole article. Or they didn’t know how to find articles appropriate for their age. We muddled through this time, but do know we are going to do some work around effective research. There is as much learning for the teacher as for the student.

  3. Andrew Wells says:

    Great Stuff. Have been doing something similar here in Australia but in a very simple way. A colleague put me onto this program. It has enthused me ! I have a few questions about how others go about resourcing materials students may need to complete there investigations. Have a GATs class and have personally resourced many students before but it is becoming financially and time demanding sourcing materials. I am hopeful that administration and families will be willing to support. How do others get around this ? More power to great work and innovation you are bringing to our 21st century learners.

  4. Wendy Bramlett says:

    How do you determine if a question will be worthy of approval? Do you have them make a plan and tell you how they will present their information? Also, do you have examples or have you seen examples of studnets’ final products so that I can share with students what others have done?

  5. Rebeca says:

    Thanks for all your posts. I teach 6th grade at the elementary level, but we do rotate the kids through three teachers. With my “core” group of students I am going to start genius hour. Your site has really helped me form my ideas on how to introduce this concept the students. I hope to introduce it this week and have them start after we come back from Thanksgiving break. We’ll see how it goes…Again, thanks for all the ideas!

  6. brandon says:

    are aliens real
    or ufo’s
    paranormal activity

  7. hayden says:

    hi i love dirtbikes

  8. I Love Genius Hour ! It Has Inspired Me So Much !

  9. Nicole Willingham says:

    I absolutely love this idea! It’s genius!! I will be implementing this into my classroom this upcoming school year.

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  1. […] read through some ideas of other people’s Passion Projects from Mr Kesler’s class (scroll down to read through some of their ideas).  Miss T asked us to use 3 sticky notes to come […]