Technology and Engineering Education
Material Type:
High School
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Genius
  • Hour
  • Problem
  • Solve
  • geniushour
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Genius Hour Unit Plan

    Genius Hour Unit Plan


    Genius Hour Unit plan created by Adam Barlow, adapted for an engineeirng design class.

    Engineering Capstone

    Genius Hour Unit Plan 

    Name: Adam Barlow

    Short Bio: I am an Engineering teacher at the Advanced Learning Center in the Nebo School District. I’m excited about bringing genius hour into my class!

    Grade Level/Subject: Engineering 12th Grade


    ISTE standard(s) for students covered in this unit:

    • 3b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

    • 5a. Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

    • 6a. Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.

    • 6d. Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge, or connections.

    Create a mini lesson plan for how you will introduce inquiry and select their Genius Hour question.

    Day 1 - Genius Hour Kickoff 

    • Introduce what genius hour 

    • Supply students with some successful examples

    • Show what a successful project can lead to (career, scholarships, etc.)

    • Establish general guidelines and rules for acceptable project questions

    • Provide students a handout copy of the rules (also post online)

    Day 2 - Selecting a Problem/Question

    • Review Genius Hour project rules

    • Set up students for a brainstorming session and review some brainstorming techniques

    • Provide students 10 minutes to brainstorm in class

    • Give students 5 minutes to eliminate their options

    • Have students present 3 of their ideas to a small group

    • Have students present their final idea to everyone in the class

    • Write down each student project

    • Take pictures of students periodically

    Day 3 - Research the Problem/Question

    • Have students investigate their problem or question given a variety of acceptable online resources.

    • Assign students a Google Doc page to compile all of their research in the form of pictures, text, recordings, etc.

    • Include a list of acceptable sources for research and how to determine if a source is credible. 

    • Refer students to a citation generator to properly cite their work in MLA.

    Day 4 - Plan a Solution

    • Have students choose one or two solution goals for their problem/question.

    • Using those goals, have students design a specific solution that satisfies that goal.

    • Students must design their solution with hand drawings, and then a digital model.

    Days 5,6,7 - Build a Prototype

    • Once students have a solution designed, now it is time to build!

    • Students must create a model of the solution they have chosen for their design. The solution must demonstrate their idea.

    Day 8 - Testing

    • Students must design a test to evaluate how well they have achieved their original goal with their solution.

    • Students will conduct the test and record data and evaluate the performance.

    • Using the data results, students will plan for improvements.

    Days 9 & 10 - Redesign and Improve

    • Using their testing data, students will make any needed redesigns and improvements to their solution.

    • Students will document any redesigns they have created.

    • Student will retest their solution to quantify the improvement

    Day 11 - Prepare to Present

    • Students will compile all their findings and their project into a single presentation that will last no more than 5 minutes.

    • The presentation must have a written script, plan, or slideshow demonstrating how it will work. 

    Day 12 - Presentation Practice

    • Students will present their findings to the class only.

    • Students will receive feedback on their performance.

    • Students will have time to redesign their presentation at the end.

    Day 13 - Final Presentation

    • Students will present their findings to a group of teachers and administrators who will evaluate their presentation and their process. 

    • Students and evaluators will be provided a specific criteria (rubric) to evaluate the project.

    • Students will then be awarded mini grants to pursue their projects further.


    If you were doing your own Genius Hour project… What would your Genius Hour question be?

    • If I were to pursue a genius hour project of my own, I would like to learn more about how materials behave under stress; particularly materials that are 3D printed such as PLA or ABS plastics. 

    • What stresses can a 0.1 inch piece of PLA plastic handle and for how long until it breaks?


    Create your mini lesson plan on how you intend to teach research and what databases and other resources your students will use. Be sure to include how you will hold students accountable for research during this time.

    • To teach students how to research using a mini example of my own projects, like my own genius hour example. Then I will create scaffolded assignments to guide them through the process.

    • I will teach them how to access, cite, and evaluate online resources using Common Sense Education activities.

    • I will require at least one source to come from Utah’s Online Library


    How will you be checking in on your student's progress? What will your daily/weekly exit ticket/stand up meeting ask of your students?

    • To keep students accountable for their work, I will have students have brief standing meetings at the beginning of class with their peers. I will go around and check off students as they present their progress. 

    • At the end of each class period, students will be required to add a brief entry in their Engineering Notebooks documenting their progress that I will check at the end of each week.

    Implementation and Presentations


    Make a rubric specifically for your student’s Genius Hour project.

    • Using the rubric below, I will rate students projects as they present them to the class and to the professional board. I will provide the other judges and the students themselve the same rubric and compare their scores to mine to create a final composite score.

    Genius Hour Project Rubric


    Poor (1)

    Fair (2)

    Good (3)

    Excellent (4)

    Question is practical and reflects students' genuine interest.


    Student provides evidence of the problem solving process exhibiting diligent progress.


    Student creates professional drawings by hand and using Computer-Aided Design to communicate and document a solution idea.


    Student provides at least five credible sources and implements them into the design.


    The student creates a prototype that functions and demonstrates how the idea will work.


    The student demonstrates how the idea or product was tested and changes were made based on data collection.


    The student presents the project in a professional manner that demonstrates preparation.


    The student includes a meaningful reflection of the project describing the process and how they plan to move forward. 




    ISTE Standard for Educator 7a is “Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology”. How could you incorporate this into Genius Hour?

    • Although students should be documenting their progress by hand in an engineering design notebook, I can have students record their progress using other mediums like video journals, Google Docs, and other tech media formats such as a personal portfolio website.

    Community Sharing

    Describe how your students will share their Genius Hour projects. Be sure to take your school/district’s social media and privacy guidelines into account.

    • Students will be able to share their projects through our school’s Engineering Instagram account and our class website. This site will be a simple design using Google Sites to be easily and frequently updated. 

    • The projects will all require a parent consent form to be allowed publication on the internet to be in accordance with our district’s social media privacy guidelines.


    How could you meet ISTE Standard for Educators Collaborator 4c “Use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally” with Genius Hour?

    • I will require students to meet or collaborate with at least one professional in the area they are studying. 

    • To help them find a professional, I will have a panel of experts I can reach out to engineering friends and other professionals I know and trust. I will allow my students to zoom or meet digitally with them at any convenient time.

    • This panel of experts may even be a part of the final evaluation if time allows.