I really love the idea of genius hour, 20% time, and passion projects. Last year we had students complete one in physics. While it was a very enjoyable experience, the one thing it lacked in the end was an audience outside of our classroom. So, this year I'm taking a bit of a risk along with my students.
Rather have students present their findings to only their physics class, we're holding an open expo on January 18th from 6 - 7 PM. I'd like to consider this a formal invitation for you to attend. The expo is intended for all ages and is free. We have a wide range of topics including sports (like baseball, basketball, and soccer), music (both vocal and instrumental), vehicles (cars, planes, and boats), photography, and even make-up. The goal is for students to communicate how physics connects to a personal interest. It is not meant to be overwhelmingly technical. It is meant to be personal.
The structure of the expo will be pretty straight forward. It will be a one hour experience. There will be 30 minute halves. Half of the students will man stations to present their learning for 30 minutes while the other half plays the role of audience. The second half they will switch roles. This was done to make sure that students were able to see other projects and to make sure all students had an audience. I am not a believer in "if you build it they will come". So, we need that built in audience. It is my hope that we will be able to spread the word and get more than just my students in the cafeteria the night of January 18th. Hopefully, if we promote it, they will come.
Students are preparing a 5 minute overview of their project to present. But, the intention is not simply to go through a slide deck. I am asking students to include some form of interaction or participation for those who come to their station. I want these students to teach through conversations not a lecture. We will really dig into this aspect of their presentations when we get back from break.
This is really out of my comfort zone, but my building administration has made it possible and easy for me to hold this event. The big hurdle was getting students to choose to participate in the event. Since the project is tied into the final exam, students who present at the event will be excused from attending their final exam for physics on the scheduled exam day. Ultimately, though, my students are fairly compliant. When I said this was a risk I was taking and I wanted them to join in, most of them were on board. It was a big ask, and they are stepping up.
Expect more promotion at the start of the new year. If you are in the area on the 18th, it would be wonderful if you could drop in.