At the MTEF Golf Outing Dinner on June 5, 2017, MTEF President Jeff DeSimone presented a $15,000 grant to Manchester Township Middle School for the creation of a Genius Lab. Each Manchester school was asked to submit a $15,000 school-wide project for this year's grant program and the middle school was selected as the number one choice.
Principal Nancy Driber and Vice Principal Steve Niniviggi described the project at the September Board of Education meeting. Mrs. Driber said that the Genius Hour Lab is now under development with a target date of January for students to begin utilizing it. Vice Principal Steven Ninivaggi explained that Genius Hour uses the model of Google's passion project, which allows employees time to pursue a project of their own, often resulting in new Google products. Students will research an idea of their choosing, pitch it to their teacher for approval, and develop a rubric for carrying out the project. They will continue to refine the project using a weekly checklist and, finally, present the project to teachers and their class. Students will blog about their progress throughout the process. "This is inquiry-based learning designed to excite, engage and motivate students," Ninivaggi remarked.
Staff training for Genius Hour will begin with Social Studies and Science teachers during October, November and December. In addition to bringing in an expert for live training, teachers will have access to web-based modules that include training as well as sample lesson plans, ideas and more. Teachers will set aside at least one day a month to visit the lab with their classes. Ninivaggi said that a 3-D printer, webcams, and video editing and coding programs are just some of the technology that will be available in the lab.
See Mrs. Driber and Mr. Ninivaggi speak after receiving the grant in the video below.