DOBSON — At Copeland Elementary, Genius Hour empowers students to be in charge of their own learning by choosing topics to research that hold personal interest to them. After choosing a topic they want to learn more about, students use the library media center and makerspace at school to research and develop their project. Genius Hour projects are completely student driven. Some of the research topics Copeland students have selected for Genius Hour this year include: medicine from plants, how to create digital animations, the human brain, the harmful effects of smoking, hurricanes, space exploration, coding, and robotics.
Copeland Elementary fourth-grader Kayli Grizzell knew she wanted to study heart disease for her Genius Hour project because she saw first hand how heart disease has affected her family. Kayli was thinking about her grandfather, Pat Grizzell, who at the time, was in the hospital with heart problems when she chose her topic. She wanted to learn more about heart disease, heart health and ways to help people with heart disease. In her research about heart disease and the American Heart Association, Kayli learned that about 610,000 people in the United States die of heart disease every year. She also learned that the American Heart Association works to support research for the prevention of heart disease, care for patients with heart disease and education to promote healthy living.
Sadly, while Kayli was still in the research phase of her project, her grandfather passed away after struggling many years with heart problems. He had had a pacemaker/defibrillator implant that was put in a few years ago but unfortunately it just wasn’t able to help him any more. Heartbroken, Kayli became even more passionate about her project on heart disease
With February being National Heart Month, Kayli decided to collect donations for the American Heart Association. She set up collection boxes in the library media center, the school office and at the school PTO dance. She made a video segment for the school news show about heart disease and advertised the donation drive. She designed buttons using the button maker in the school makerspace to spread word about her project and to remind people to donate. She presented buttons to school staff who wore them proudly. Decorated in red and pink hearts, the buttons bore the message, “I support The American Heart Association.”
After just one week of collecting donations, Kayli had raised more than $21 for her cause. This led her to an idea that would allow her to make an even bigger difference in the fight against heart disease.
Kayli decided to extend her Genius Hour project beyond her school. She and her mom, Heather Grizzell, used the power of social media to create a Go Fund Me page online to raise even more money for the American Heart Association. Kayli continues to collect donations in honor of her grandfather. Her Go Fund Me page can be accessed at https://www.gofundme.com/h8ngccfr.
Kayli wants supporters to know, “The American Heart Association will use the money to research heart disease, educate and help people. I miss my Papa and I will be so appreciative of any donation you can give to help others who have problems like he had. Please donate and help save lives!”
Kayli’s project on heart disease is just one example of the many ways Genius Hour empowers students to take charge of their own learning. Through student driven research projects like this, students build confidence and skills needed to become lifelong learners. By sharing their projects beyond the school they become global citizens who give back to society.