The concept of a Genius Hour is often implemented seamlessly at the elementary school level, but is more challenging to figure out at the secondary level.  High school teachers can successfully implement a Genius Hour if they are armed with the right support, tools, and some effective ideas.  Here are some great Genius Hour ideas for high school.

They’re broken down subject-by-subject. If you’re a High School teacher looking for content-specific Genius Hour ideas, we hope you find some. If there are things that have worked well in your classroom, let us know on social!

Social Studies/History

In Social Studies or History, there is a vast amount of content to work with.  This could easily lend itself to so many projects that can really flesh out what would normally be covered in class.  Here are a few ideas that you can customize to your own specific topic.

Create a Website

A student could create a website that explains a historical event they are learning about, or are interested in. They could create a research site for someone looking to learn more about the topic. They would write the content for the website, and possibly create graphics or videos that could be helpful.

Put Together a Digital Scrapbook

A digital scrapbook could document what a certain time period was like.  For example, find images and descriptions that describe how the Ancient Egyptians lived during a certain time period.  Include recipes from what they ate, drawings of their buildings, and written descriptions of who ruled the people.

Interview Someone

Research and find a person or a group of people who lived through a significant historical event.  Write out a list of pertinent questions to ask them, and then conduct an interview of them on a video or phone call.  Some examples could be a Holocaust survivor, Vietnam War veteran, or firefighter present during the 9/11 attacks.

Math

Math can be a little bit of a tricky subject to think about Genius Hour ideas, but numbers are everywhere.  People and computers have to complete so many calculations all the time, so let’s dig in!

Create a Video or Podcast

This could be a single podcast episode or video, or a series, explaining how to complete a certain complex math problem or problems.  Then explain why that particular problem is significant, and how it can be used practically in everyday life.  An example could be how a projectile motion problem is used to predict how far away a baseball will land after it is thrown.

Make Your Own Word Problems

Create word problems around a mathematical subject or topic.  Turn your problems into a Kahoot or Quizziz game for others to play.

Research a Career That Involves (a lot of) Math

Many jobs use lots of man in their day-to-day operations. Find someone in that field and interview them. Ask them about the mathematics they use, and why it is important. Example careers could include a data scientist, statistician, or financial analyst.

English/Literature

In any English class, there is a reading and analysis component, and a writing component. Both of these lend themselves to Genius Hour projects when you consider taking them to a more in-depth level.

Write a Blog Post

Write a blog post that explains the significance of a particular book, play, or other written work.  Or it could be more creative like “Why No One Likes Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.” This could easily lend itself to not just a single post, but a blog series.

Start a Book Club

In each book club meeting, members have to come with discussion questions and ideas.

Virtual Pen Pal

Read the same book, article, play, or other written work as a student from another school. Correspond with that student with a discussion board or live video calls.

Science

Science is a subject that is all about figuring out how the world works, so any idea you can consider that has students engaged in their own curiosity will work!  Here are some ideas:

Design an Experiment

Students think of a question that they don’t know the answer to. Then they must design and carry out an experiment that they think will answer the question. They record all of their data, and come to some kind of conclusion, even if it doesn’t fully answer their original question.

Go On a Birding Expedition

Learn about birds in your area and research where to find them. Grab some binoculars, and see what you can see. Record all interesting findings and compare them with other students. But — this doesn’t have to be just about birds. Students could choose a local animal to research.

Find a Scientist to Interview

Get them on a video call, and ask them questions about their work and what it feels like to be a living, breathing scientist.

World Languages/Cultures

The world is becoming a more global place all the time, so it is essential that students learn new languages and cultures.  These ideas will help guide them in that direction.

Create a Facebook Page

Create a Facebook page, or another social media profile, for a person dead or alive in a chosen culture. Use images, but all of the written components should be written in the person’s native language.Film stars, singers, scientists, and humanitarians are all good examples to choose from, but an average person could work as well.

Take or Teach a Cooking Class

Students could take part in a cooking class for a specific culture. This could be an online cooking class, or learning from a family member or someone in the community. Students could also demonstrate how to cook foods of a certain culture, either in class or by creating a ‘cooking show’ type video.

Write a Song

A student could compose the lyrics music to a song in the language they are learning. The style of music could be tailored to the culture where the language is spoken, modern or historically. The student could choose to record, perform, or even create a music video with the long.

Art/Design

The creation of new things is something that will always be valuable in society. Learning to artistically and creatively design can serve them well in the future. Here’s where you can start:

Design an Ad or Social Media Post

Use Canva or some other digital design tool to design an ad for a brand, possibly a brand or product you would like to, or have, designed.

Design a Character

Students can draw or digitally create this character and include attributes of the character in the design. As an extension, they can write a short story or graphic novel involving their character.

Create a School Mural

With the proper permission of course, students can paint a mural somewhere in the school. Hallways and library walls make really great canvases!

Technology

It’s no secret that the world runs on technology that is continuously being developed. When students learn to hone their technology skills, this can help prepare them for future jobs. These are some technology ideas:

Robotics Projects

Students can gain some valuable skills working together on robotics kits. There are also competitions for students who want to become more involved.

Design an Invention or Innovation

Some ideas for design projects include designing a new video game, an innovation to a vehicle, or even something like a Rube Goldberg project. Students can use available technology tools to help them.

Learn to Code

Coding is an extremely marketable skill. It can also be really fun for students to design their own projects using the coding they learn.

Health/Physical Education

While this area of high school may sometimes be overlooked when it comes to projects, health and physical education can provide some very enriching opportunities for students. Keeping healthy and active is a lifestyle that will continue to benefit students.

Write an Exercise or Nutrition Plan

Students could create this plan for themselves, or someone else.

Learn a New Sport

Learn about something that is really big in a different region or country, but not so well known in your area like cricket, lacrosse, or water polo.

Interview a Trainer or Nutritionist

Students could interview a trainer or nutritionist in the community to learn about their job, and get answers to questions they may have about fitness and nutrition. Students could even interview multiple experts in this field, to learn about a broad view of approaches, perhaps outlining the pros and cons of each.

Business/Economics

Many students will go into business or economics in some way, shape, or form after high school. They will also need to know the basics of things like managing bills, paying taxes, or perhaps taking out a loan. Why not give them a real world taste of it now? This way they can have some experience. Here are some ideas:

Make a Business Plan

Tell students they have 1 million dollars to get a business off the ground, and they have to make a plan. What kind of business will they run? Who will they hire to help them? What will they do to make sure their business will thrive?

Research a Local Business

Learn what goes into running a business. Students can even interview local business owners to get their perspectives. Good choices include doctors offices, grocery stores, mechanic shops, or restaurants.

Do an In-Depth Study of the Economy of a City or Town

A student can do research to try to discern if the chosen place is thriving or not. How does the area bring in money? Is their current economy sustainable?

How to Create a Genius Hour

At the High School level, how do you create time for a Genius Hour? What does this look like in the daily schedule?

Different schools have taken different approaches. One way is to use your school’s flex block (or Advisory, WIN time, Resource Period, etc.), at least once a week, for Genius Hour.

For it to truly be “20% time”, your school could use its daily flex block or advisory for this time. Or, you could create an entire flex day where students could work on projects in-depth.

Does a ‘flex day’ sound intimidating? Learn how one school expanded the Genius ‘Hour’ into an entire school day, and the amazing things students were able to accomplish because of it.

To give students the time they need, you also need a schedule that works.
Here are some resources we can share.