Genius Project Sparks Innovation to Solve Real-life Problems

Sophomore Paris Zhuang demonstrates her science experiment with dry ice and cabbage juice while freshmen Shishir Ravipati and Megha Andraju present their genius project item in their infomercials.

Junhee Ryu and Julia Kim

Select freshmen and sophomores will present their semester’s worth of innovating, designing and analysis in science to the school on June 6-8. While sophomores have been working on Genius Project trailers, the freshmen have continued the tradition with the same Genius Project prompt of addressing a problem in the modern world with a few minor adjustments.

“This year, we have actually launched a template that has all the prompts on it already that included everything for the semester and the due dates already broken up, so the students were able to plan it out a lot better, particularly those that are highly involved with athletics or other extracurricular activities,” science department chair Erin Arredondo said.

The science department has guided students in identifying a problem in the community and creating a solution to it. Different from last year, teachers have opened up the project to encompass any criteria (e.g. environmental, health) and have created a rubric based on how well students follow Scientific Engineering Practices (SEP). These SEPs are standards that ask students to perform tasks like analyze and interpret data or construct explanations.

“The project’s really different from anything that we’ve ever done in science. It’s an interesting way to use your own creativity to come up with your own project,” freshman Ashley Presnell said. “A big thing about science is growing from what you’ve learned. So we’ve done three prototypes of our project, and we had to learn from our first prototype and our second prototype to help design our third prototype so it works better.”  

After developing a model of the product, freshmen have been assigned the task of creating an infomercial to pitch the product to an audience. On the last week of school, both sophomores and freshmen will be recognized for their achievements with awards. Only one freshman or one group of sophomores will receive the highest award, the Pehrson Innovation Award.

“The award could go to a sophomore or a freshman, but only one PHS student will receive it,” science teacher Jeralyn Jelnick said. “The award is primarily selected by Mr. Pehrson and is selected based off the following: project demonstrates thinking outside the box, reuses everyday items in innovative ways, cost efficient, safe, could have the potential for impact on the community and of course, has an extra wow factor to it.