8th grader Summer Blanford presents on her Genius Hour topic.
It’s called ‘Genius Hour’ -- a class period devoted entirely to exploring ideas and topics that students choose. At Marion County Knight Academy, during Genius Hour students are given the opportunity to research, create, and present projects on almost any subject that piques their interests.
On Monday, in Ms. Kim Scalf’s 8th grade Genius Hour class, student presentations ran the gamut with topics including careers in professional athletics, a look at the effects of global poverty, an overview of the most common horse breeds, and even an exploration into the topic “What Makes Us Forget?”
Not only is the class itself new, the independence inherent in it is also unlike other traditional classes.
“At first, students didn’t know what to do with this newfound freedom,” Scalf said. “It’s definitely an interest-driven class.”
Each student project must have three basic components: a topic or question that lends itself to research, a product that is created by the student, and a presentation sharing the research.
During the year’s first round of presentations, students shared slideshow presentations they created as a part of their projects. However, the product component is open to almost any option. Scalf noted that one group of students is designing a video game as a part of the research project.
And while some students will move on to new project topics, others will use future projects as an extension of the same topic.
Currently, Scalf and Heather Smith are teaching the Genius Hour class at Marion County Knight Academy.