Obsidian Middle School students get creative during “Genius Hour”

Since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, Obsidian Middle School (OMS) students have been engaged in an exciting new program called “Genius Hour.”

The idea of “Genius Hour” originated with search engine giant Google, where the company allows engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on “pet” or “passion” projects. Gmail is said to have been developed during this time.

“We heard of Google’s model and other schools implementing a “Genius Hour” and were inspired to bring it to OMS,” Assistant Principal Sam Platt said. “It’s a pretty simple idea that if you allow students to work on something they love and interests them, their productivity goes up. So far, the results have been amazing with students working on everything from drone videos to humanitarian projects.”

Eighth-grader Emily Adame was tired of seeing depression affecting her loved ones, and after a little research she determined there is a lot of misinformation about how depression works. She has been using her “Genius Hour” time to research depression and come up with not only possible solutions, but research-based information to counter misconceptions about the affliction.

“It means a lot to me to have this time to dedicate to a project that affects me in a personal way,” Adame said. “I’m looking forward to presenting my research results and having a positive impact on my fellow students and others.”

Students are not given hard deadlines for their projects, rather they are complete when they feel comfortable presenting their ideas and creations to their class.

Eighth-grader Iverson Smith is putting his interest in drone photography to use by creating a promotional video for OMS that will include fly-over shots of the building, football field and other facilities. Smith’s drone pairs with his smartphone and allows him to see what his drone sees. He also edits straight from his phone using the app iMovie.

“In just our first year into the program, we’re continually blown away with the level of creativity and sophistication our students are coming up with,” Platt said. “We’re excited to be able to fuel their passions and produce amazing outcomes.”

OMS has scheduled a holiday bazaar for Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, from which all proceeds will go to fund “Genius Hour” projects.

“Our students are thinking of ideas and projects that require money. We don’t want to be in a position of saying, ‘no, we can’t afford this or that,’ and we can’t ask parents to fund everything, so we’re pleased to put on a holiday bazaar to ensure our kids have the resources they need to keep thinking big.”

For questions about the bazaar or to reserve a vendor table, contact Platt at samuel.platt@redmondschools.org or 541-923-4900.