Seventh-grade students at Topeka Collegiate School got a chance to pursue their passion while trying to make a buck.

Students showed off their photography skills, previewed a homemade movie, crafted custom posters and some even carved soap statues. 

“We thought of carving soap because it’s pretty soft and easier to manipulate,” said middle school student Laura Beatty.   

The soap carving and other projects are part of the school’s “Genius Hour” expo. 

“The point of Genius Hour is to do something that you want to do, and that you enjoy doing and do it well,” said student Thomas Schmidt. 

Genius Hour also puts students puts students in charge of their own learning. Students displayed the projects that they had been working on for other students, parents, and staff. 

“They’ve made their own deadlines, they’ve designed their own project descriptions and set their own prices if they are selling anything,” said Topeka Collegiate teacher Chris Denton. 

Denton says giving students ownership and helps them to put their critical thinking skills to use.

“I like it when I don’t see myself in their projects, it means it’s completely their own,” said Denton. 

The project is part of self-directed learning. Students also used the time for self-assessment. 

This is the second year for the Genius Hour showcase.