By Ruben Soberanis ’19
Juniors this year get to spend their Fridays working on projects of their choice. The juniors are encouraged to pick topics that interest them and then find ways to solve the solution. However, their topic can’t be something easy that google has to answers to.
Being able to have Genius Hour at Pritzker seems to be great for some students and not others. Chloee Toro, a junior from Ashley McCaw’s AP English Language and Composition class, talked about how she thinks it’s great because she believes it gives students a chance to feel like they can do something important to help their communities. Toro stated, “some topics students may pick seem nearly impossible, but the junior teachers in charge are helpful and motivational, which inspires us even more.”
Students may wonder: what do they do during that time on Friday though? Desiree Cardero, a junior from Jennifer Kuehl’s IB English class, stated that they all get to have Chromebooks and have the whole period to work on their projects. Once in awhile, they check-in with Kuehl or McCaw [depending on their teacher] to discuss where they plan on going with their topic. Toro explained, “When my class first started, we started off by picking a topic that interest us and doing research on it. After [so many days], we had to [start making] a gameplan on how we planned to make our next step such as finding information to contact the organization or people. So far, that is the farthest we have gotten. At the end of the project, we will present our topics to the class and inform them more on it.”
The topics Toro and Cardero picked were actually pretty interesting too. Toro is doing research on Hunger in America; whereas, Cardero is doing research on video games effects on the brain and what ways people can put them into academic use to raise awareness of their benefits.
Toro said, “I picked Hunger in America because last year I did community service at a food pantry called New Life. They would give bags of food to people and had different bags [filled with cans, meats, and vegetables]. There was a lot of people from different ages starting from young adults to elderly [there] and it hurt knowing some kids might not understand how lucky we have it while others [don’t].” However, Cardero stated, “I picked this because I love video games and I find certain ones to challenge the mind in ways standard academics do not.”
Here are some suggestions from Cardero and Toro to upcoming juniors on how they should pick their topics. Cardero stated, “ There is nothing I can say that you would not have already heard when that time comes. Pick a passion and run with it. Do not let anyone ruin this for you. Be it an issue or just your passion, [Genius Hour] is so you can explore that and educate others on it.” Toro stated, “I suggest picking a topic that interest you even though that is the point of Genius Hour. Find something that has true meaning to you and you feel that you can make a change about. The sky’s the limit !”
Similarly, Toro and Cardero both believe Genius Hour’s goal in their opinions is to make the community better.