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What Is Idea Lab?


Idea Lab is based on the Genius Hour or 20% Time model developed by tech companies, such as Google, which allows employees to work on passion projects or other ideas that interest them for a set amount of time each day or week.


Idea Lab at Mahoney allows students time to learn about what interests them and work on an idea or passion project. Ideas could come from any domain: a creative or artistic product, a design or engineering project, or an intellectual pursuit. 

Have An Idea?

Pick up an Idea Lab prosoal form in the library, make a copy of the Idea Lab proposal Google Doc, or download the PDF below.

Idea Lab

Introduction to Genius Hour

Purpose & Guiding Principles


The Idea Lab will

  • Allow students to explore personal interests and passions.
  • Help students develop resiliency and responsibility for their own learning.
  • Place emphasis on 21st Century Skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and global awareness.

Guiding Principles

  1. Purpose: Students must find their own sense of purpose in what they decide to study or create.
  2. Design: Students are in charge of designing their own learning experience.
  3. Inquiry: Students answer their own questions by finding information from a variety of sources, drawing conclusions, and making meaning.
  4. Create: There is always a visible product or function to the learning. Learning must be shareable in some way.
  5. Socialization: Students work with the librarian, technology integrator, peers, and teachers to create a sense of collaboration, community, and purpose to their work.
  6. 80/20 Rule: Idea Lab exists upon a strong academic foundation which students apply themselves to during the rest of the school day and week.

Fall 2017

To participate in the first ever session of Idea Lab, students need to:

  • Submit their project proposal to Ms. Gartley by Friday, October 6.
  • Schedule times to work on their idea from October until the week before Thanksgiving.

Details and Expectations

  • Students must submit a Project Proposal and Feasibility Study to Ms. Gartley for approval.
  • Idea Lab runs for six-week sessions.
  • Students work on projects during Period 7 on even days.
  • Students must be caught up on all class work, in order to participate.
  • Teams must submit their proposal together.
  • Although ideas may evolve, students must have a plan.
  • Students must decide on a way to track their progress. Students could use a chart, journal, or photos; the method may depend on the nature of the project.
  • While Idea Lab should be fun, participating in Idea Lab is a privilege and students are expected to be on-task and respectful. Students may lose their Idea Lab privilege for the day at Ms. Gartley’s discretion. Repeated off-task or disrespectful behavior may result in the loss of Idea Lab privileges for the session.