What Is Genius Hour?

Apr 23, 2021 | Shift

What is Genius Hour?

Genius Hour, also known as 20% Time or Passion Projects, is an educational approach that encourages students to spend a dedicated portion of their school week working on projects of their own choosing. These projects are driven by students’ interests, curiosities, and passions, rather than traditional curricular requirements. This approach originated from companies like Google, where employees were allowed to spend 20% of their work time pursuing their own projects.

In the classroom, Genius Hour typically involves allocating a set amount of time each week for students to explore their passions, research topics they are curious about, and ultimately create a project or presentation to share with their peers. The key to Genius Hour is that it’s entirely student-driven, giving learners the autonomy to choose what they want to explore and how they want to do it.

How Does Genius Hour Work?

The Genius Hour process can be broken down into several steps:

1. Passion Discovery: Students are encouraged to reflect on their interests and identify topics or projects they are passionate about. This step often involves brainstorming sessions, research, and discussions with teachers and peers.

2. Project Proposal: Once students have identified their passion projects, they create project proposals outlining their goals, objectives, and what they hope to learn or achieve.

3. Project Work: Students then dive into their chosen projects, conducting research, experimenting, creating, and developing their skills. This phase is marked by exploration and experimentation.

4. Reflection: Regular check-ins and reflection sessions are vital to assess progress, challenges, and learning experiences. Students can revise their project goals based on their reflections.

5. Sharing and Presentation: At the end of the Genius Hour period, students present their projects to the class or school community. This could be in the form of a presentation, a demonstration, or even an art exhibit, depending on the nature of the project.

Benefits of Genius Hour

1. Fosters Intrinsic Motivation: Genius Hour allows students to pursue their passions, igniting their intrinsic motivation to learn and discover. When students are genuinely interested in a topic, they are more likely to be engaged and take ownership of their learning.

2. Encourages Creativity: By allowing students to explore their interests, Genius Hour cultivates creativity and innovative thinking. It empowers students to think outside the box and develop unique solutions to problems.

3. Enhances Problem-Solving Skills: Through self-directed projects, students learn to identify and solve problems, fostering critical thinking and decision-making skills.

4. Supports Project Management: Genius Hour teaches valuable project management skills, including goal setting, time management, and resource allocation.

5. Builds Confidence: As students see their projects come to life and share their accomplishments with their peers, they build self-confidence and a sense of pride in their work.

6. Cross-Curricular Learning: Genius Hour naturally integrates various subjects, as students often need to draw from multiple disciplines to tackle their chosen projects.

Transforming Education

Genius Hour represents a shift in educational paradigms, moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalized and student-centered model. By giving students the freedom to pursue their interests, it prepares them for a future where problem-solving, creativity, and adaptability are highly valued skills.

While Genius Hour is not a complete replacement for traditional curriculum, it can be a powerful addition to the classroom, helping students discover their passions, develop 21st-century skills, and embrace the joy of learning. This innovative approach to education fosters a lifelong love of learning, empowering students to become the true geniuses they are meant to be.


  1. Sandeep Kumar Singh

    Hi, I would love to apply this in my classroom. Would you be able to send me aome classroom examples on instructional guide to apply Genious Hour in class?

    We are an international school , grade 4, 1 hour 30 min/week can be dedicated to genius hour.


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