A genius idea

Sophomores complete creative research project

Sophomore Shane Halligan works to restore the engine of his ’71 Mustang. Halligan plans to bring the car to school as part of his Genius project.

photo by Sergio Alcala

Sophomore Shane Halligan works to restore the engine of his ’71 Mustang. Halligan plans to bring the car to school as part of his Genius project.

Emily Cosio, Staff Reporter

From gardening, to building, to baking, to camping, hobbies make students unique. Hobbies fuel the passion that people want to pursue, but the truth is, only 30 percent of people will have a career in their childhood dream field, according to LinkedIn. English teachers Sarah Jarem and Victoria Babington want to help their students find their passion through a new project, Operation Genius.

Operation Genius is intended to help students think independently, challenge themselves, move forward in life. Many critics complain that there is no longer a joy in learning at school, grading systems are all point-based, and students are obsessed with trying to get the highest GPA. Jarem and Babington wanted to end the year on a different note. She, along with Babington, are allowing her students to do a research project on just about anything they want, like writing a novel, for example. Failure is an option. The students are not being graded on whether or not they succeed, but rather the progress of the project.

“I’m trying to impress upon them the difference between being a good learner and a good student,” Jarem said. “School is more than just grades, it’s about learning.”

The students were introduced to the project on May 1 and have four weeks to present their findings. It all began by choosing a passion, narrowing it down to the certain thing that students appreciated the most. From that one idea, students had to form their topic question, what they were going to research and learn about. Students were given a couple weeks to independently research and create what they wanted to.

Sophomore Kobe Murray loves music and art, both 2-D and 3-D. He is creating an abstract 3-D model, using 2-D textures, accompanied by a song that he is playing on the guitar. Murray taught himself how to play the guitar four months ago and wants to learn his fifth song.

“There isn’t going to be a definite meaning,” Murray said. “It’s going to be kind of ambiguous, to kind of leave it up to the viewer.”

Sophomore Sebastian Torres’ goal is to create a cheaper alternative for a gaming computer. Torres has always been into console gaming, but he wanted to do something larger so he decided to build a computer. He learned about computers by watching YouTube videos and from his uncle, who is an engineer. Torres is putting almost $300 to create his gaming computer, a savings of several hundred dollars over one he would purchase.

In a different direction, sophomore Jessica Witt wants to globally promote dirt bike and four-wheel racing, so she is creating YouTube videos of her friends racing. Witt faces the dangers of biking whenever she practices.

Sophomore Shane Halligan began his project two years ago, but he plans on finishing and presenting it at the end of the year. Halligan and his father have been working on completely restoring his ‘71 Mustang, starting with the exterior, suspensions, brake systems, engine and interior. He will be displaying his car behind the school on his presentation day.

Jarem and Babington, along with the rest of their students, look forward to seeing the end creations.

“I wanted to end the year on a fun note and hopefully give students some inspiration for next year as they go into being an upperclassman and some inspiration to continue their learning,” Jarem said.