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Regina-Howell Students Realize Their Passion

Taking an idea called “The Genius Hour,” a popular movement in education, Regina-Howell Elementary School has recently implemented what they call Passion Projects for fourth and fifth-grade Pegasus students. 

A Passion Project allows students to study a topic of their choice during a specific time period, usually 8–9 weeks. They can explore their own passions or delve into something about which they may be curious, but never set aside the time to investigate. After teacher approval of the choice, students get creative control over their own learning. Some students do the project entirely on their own, while others may tap into other resources, such as a friend who may have experience with their topic. Other students who may need materials or adult supervision will enlist their parents in assisting them. For example, carpentry and engineering may be necessary to construct a birdhouse or a bookcase, or materials to build a remote control car from scratch may need to be ordered. This also promotes a great school-family connection. 

Students get a lot more out of the experience than just research and discovery of the topic. Some students learn that some things are much harder in actuality than they were in their minds. Bisargo Das is one such student who wanted to build a robotic elevator through the discovery method. "I learned that building stuff wasn't very easy, and that one little thing could ruin the whole build," said Das.

This year, the selections were organized into five groups: Engineering/Technology, Hobbies/Crafts/Art, Back in Time (History/Mythology), Our World (Biology/Space/Travel), and Electives (Language/Music/Sports). 

The impact of this event is the enthusiasm, which is three-fold between students, parents, and educators. Students can share their excitement about learning with fellow students. As the presenting students share their topic, the students receiving the information also get an added benefit because the enthusiasm is contagious. The interest builds further among all the students as presenters are reinvigorated by curious minds that ask questions. Parents get to see their child interact with other learners. In turn, educators say there is nothing more exhilarating than to see the joy of curiosity, discovery, and learning sparked in children.