The Einstein Project: Genius Hour Meets Makerspace

By AJ Juliani, 3 comments

I failed a lot this year (you can read about them all here in my failure report), but also had some amazing successes with teachers and students at our school.

The Einstein Project is one of those stories that could have been an enormous failure, but instead turned into a project that defined a class, department, and school. If you want to dig right in and see what it’s all about, watch this video. Then I’ll explain the details below:

Last year we reimagined what the old “Shop Class” could become and rewrote our entire K-12 Technology Education curriculum as a transformed Maker Department.

The Elementary technology labs became FLITE School (with our teachers now called FLITE Technicians). Our High School Shop transformed into the Upper Perk xLab with 3d Printers, CNC Router, Heat Press, Vinyl Cutter, Vex Robotics, and a lot of raw material and tools for students to create whatever they could dream up!

On a trip to present at the BrightBytes Institute in Pittsburgh last spring, Dan Moyer (one of our xLab teachers at the HS) and I were discussing the changes that were made and what could happen next year to empower our students at an even greater level.

Our conversation turned to Einstein, someone who we admired more for his risk-taking and curious view of the world, than even his accomplishments. Dan said, “I want students to go through a process like Einstein. Solving big problems that bother them. Solving problems that make them wake up in the morning excited about school.”

The process Dan was referring to is design thinking (the LAUNCH Cycle), and the comment immediately brought up memories of my work as a teacher with the 20% Project and Genius Hour.

The conversation continued over the coming weeks and months, and Dan had the Einstein Project fleshed out enough to share with his colleague Blake, and the students in the xLab.

The Einstein Project

Einstein Project Overview

The “Einstein Project” is designed to find a solution to an everyday problem that makes you passionate in your thinking and designing. This project is designed to make you think outside of the box as active learners and create solutions in uncommon ways, forget about failing or succeeding and take chances. Learn from your failures and create opportunities to succeed with the new knowledge that you have!

~ “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

Create a “plan” to inform the class, school and general public of your chosen innovation or project. This plan should include insight into your drive and passion that has motivated you to select this project.

Directions:

  • Using this form as a template, develop a plan for goals identified in the project requirements.
  • Modify the form as needed to fit your unique project. (make a copy)
  • Create a working document to share with each of the collaboration groups.
  • Keep your digital portfolio journal up to date and bring it to meetings.  
  • Bi-weekly class meetings – groups/individuals will share successes, failures and design updates as well as provide insight based on experiences.
  • Use the appropriate tools, technologies and resources to ensure success in your process.

Einstein Project Infographic (click here)

Einstein Project Outline For Students

 

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Einstein Action Plan

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Einstein Project Rubric

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 2.43.22 PM Cost Analysis

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 2.43.30 PMPlease SHARE THIS VIDEO!

If you are interested in the Einstein Project and want to have a better understanding of design thinking projects, check out our new book: LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student.

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