Passion for Learning
What do Post-its and Gmail have in common? Both were created during “passion project” time at 3M and Google. Both companies allow employees a certain amount of time to pursue their own ideas rather than only focusing on the tasks of the company. This type of passion-based learning has made its way into education and is the crux of the Innovation Lab course at Loveland High School (LHS).
At the beginning of the year, students brainstormed possible project topics and conferenced with District Director of Technology David Knapp and LHS Innovative Instructional Coach Amanda Bimonte to discuss their ideas. From there, students created a timeline to coincide with course checkpoints and delved into their passions.
Senior Mitchell Saatkamp, who’s bound for Brigham Young University this January, is pursuing rocket science, literally. He began with researching rocket design and experimenting with prototypes. His final step is to locate a local site to conduct his launch and gather data.
“It’s taught me about planning and due dates,” said Saatkamp said. “With the independent aspect, there’s a lot of emphasis on the self and personal motivation.”
Senior Sean Ovens would agree.
“My weakness is making due dates, and this experience has taught me time management skills,” said Ovens. His passion project is creating guides, tutorials, and examples for Adobe Photoshop. Due to his rigorous course schedule, he was unable to take Photo 2, and this project has enabled him to consult with Photography Teacher Jim Barrett on how to get the most out of his inquiry.
“This type of project encourages us to put all we have into it - just like the word ‘passion’ suggests,” said Ovens.
Another project being pursued is 3D printing. Junior Garrett Royal set up his own over the summer and that experience inspired him to tackle the topic more in-depth. As part of his project, Royal is sharing his knowledge with other staff and students in Loveland. He recently helped Innovative Instructional Coach Laura Holtkamp set up a Polar 3D printer at the LIS/LMS Media Center.
What does he enjoy most?
“Getting to work with the materials I love,” answered Royal. “I get to work with my hands rather than just talking about it.”
Royal’s next step is to work with Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge to design and print a functional hand that could be matched with a recipient.
Other projects this year include Senior Travis Fletcher’s A+ certification, widely considered an essential credential for establishing an IT career; Senior Morgan Pontsler’s video game design, creation, and eventual release on an app store; Senior Julia Hoge’s pursuit of digital animation, and Junior Jack Alexander’s strategy guide for Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse.
“Choices are more liberating than one single pathway that everyone has to go down and, for me, that has been fun,” said Junior Jack Alexander. “It’s nice to have fun at school.”
Top photo caption: LHS Junior Garrett Royal working with the 3D Polar printer.
Photo caption: LHS Senior Morgan Pontsler shows Loveland Director of Technology David Knapp how to play the video game Pontsler created.