The Plastic Problem

Genius Hour has been running in Room 2 for the first 3 terms of this year. Genius Hour is also called 20% time as it all started with Google encouraging their employees to spend 20% of their time exploring their ideas and passions that link to Google’s core business. The most famous inventions to come from 20% time are GMail and Google Maps, where would we be without those?

For those of us who do not work for an enormous global corporation have to make do with Genius Hour. Genius Hour is a project-based learning (PBL) concept that builds on the passions of individual children. It fits nicely into the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) under PBL and integrated curriculum, where more than one, if not all, core subjects are taught in tandem with each other through a realistic and authentic context. The NCZ says it should be about;



Essential elements of project-based learningKey knowledge, understanding, and success skills – the project is focused on student learning goals, including curriculum-based content and skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and self-management.A challenging problem or question – the project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.Sustained inquiry – inquiry is iterative, students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information to reach a satisfactory solution.Authenticity – the project features real-world tasks, processes, tools, and performance/quality standards. It can have an impact on others, or create something that will be used or experienced by others. It can have personal authenticity relating to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.Student voice and choice – students have input and (some) control over the project, including the questions they generate, the resources they use, how they work, and what they create.Reflection – reflection should be an explicit part of project journals, formative assessment, discussions at project checkpoints, and public presentations of student work.Critique and revision – teach students how to give and receive constructive peer feedback to improve their process and products.Public product – students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.






So the Plastic Problem was identified by two students in Room 2, Emma and Jernelle. They approached me with a proposal with some ideas around plastic pollution and what they can do to help.

We discussed about the possibility of a trip and what that would look like how would we plan it and what would we need to do. During the planning stage we received an email from School Kit who were offering kits to help with planning a community based activity in conjunction with the Student Volunteer Army. Now the planning started, to qualify for a kit you had to fulfil certain obligations, first was to organise and carry out an event that would help the local community. It could not be a fundraiser and had to be completed before Week 7 of term 4.

In the pack were lots of helpful ideas and planning tools to help us out, the girls also had to complete the School’s risk management plan and apply to the Principal for Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) approval. They had to identify any risks, hazards, transport and a list of equipment needed as well as rules to follow to keep everyone safe. Posters produced and a student meeting held to gage interest, there was a permission slip given out and the girls were responsible for collecting these in and keeping track of those outstanding.

Eventually, we made it to the morning of the event. Twenty five kids, five parents and one teacher loaded into cars and off we went to Wharewaka Point in Taupo. On arrival, you would have questioned the reasoning for picking such a pristine spot on the shore of Lake Taupo. We donned high vis vests and set off along the path and lake edge. Amazingly, litter appears to be like stars on a moonless night, the more you look the more you see. After two hours of picking we filled eight bags with everything from beer bottle tops to tee shirts to used nappies.



As the teacher of Room 2 I was so proud to see the students found a project that they cared about so much and seeing it all the way through to the end. Well done all. .

Now that the project is completed how do you feel it went?

I liked the feeling when we were walking along the beach picking up rubbish that we had thought of the idea and we had seen it through to the end. The Student Volunteer Army package was very helpful and the resources helped us out. It was hard when it took us two goes to get permission from the Principal. Emma S.

I like how everyone got along and worked really hard to pick up the rubbish. The planning was hard and it didn’t really work at first so we had to change the plan and modify what we had planned and it worked. Jernelle.

Plastic Problem 1