Being passionate about learning - Passion Projects

At Wairakei Primary School an important part of the learning process is through the inquiry-based approach. This encourages connection, cooperation, and collaboration by allowing students to pose and solve problems together, and with their communities, in shared and authentic learning experiences. 

Every teacher wants their students to find joy in the learning process.

How do we as educators provide students with an environment to discover who they are?

Help them unlock the passions they hold? and Guide their journey of self-discovery while also teaching the requirements of the New Zealand Curriculum? One way we can do this is providing time for students to explore their passions.

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” - Bishop T. D. Jakes

The concept of passion projects has links to the ‘Genius Hour’ movement in education, where students spend one hour a week researching their passions and sharing their learning. Students plan and manage their own learning project – gathering information, working through processes, refining ideas and developing skills.

Below is an example of an inquiry cycle that can be used when completing passion projects. This is the one that Room 2 has been using during Genius hour.

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Mr Simms, the Room 2 class teacher, has been encouraging his students to follow their passions and to question and investigate a topic of interest.

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A sample of the passion projects completed by Room 2 students as part of their weekly Genius Hour programme.

Chloe

“Our group was wanting to find out how to make a crane to lift things.”

“I think it’s good to do genius hour projects because it helps us get better at our skills in a fun way”

Reid

“We were really enthusiastic because we could choose what we wanted to study and do it at our own pace.”

“At first it didn’t work. Then we tried different combinations of the cables and it worked.”

“It was really cool to be able to present my work in this way.”

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Darryl

“I like doing projects and making things”.

“I learnt how to make a circuit work. Next time I’d like to make a flash flood warning light signal.”

Watch ‘Passion Projects Room 2-Jayden’ video here

Jayden

“I decided to make a water rocket because I was interested in seeing how high it would go.”

“I planned it on paper first, then collected all the materials and made it.”

“It went from the PE shed to the court. It went further than I thought it would.”

Benefits of passion projects:

  1. With students conducting in-depth research on topics that interests them, they can often learn more than from a more traditional classroom setting.

  2. Secondly, teachers can learn more about their students, their passions and how they learn

  3. All areas of the curriculum can be covered, including: Literacy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) and The Arts.

  4. Children develop the Key Competencies: Thinking, Relating to others, Using language, symbols, and texts, Managing self, and Participating and contributing.

  5. It allows more interactive and engaging learning. Students are passionate about the topics they picked, and will interact and engage more in the learning and research process.

This type of learning is based on the belief that "No longer is the teacher a dispenser of all knowledge - students must be entrusted to make learning their own.”

Passion projects, in various forms, are now an integral part of learning at Wairakei Primary.

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