"How many of you think that you have uncovered something in your Freshman project that you'll want to do the rest of your life?" Over half of my ninth graders raised their hands and I was moved to tears. YES! This is why I teach.
The Freshman project wasn't my idea. Google lets their employees use 20% of their time to work on any project they choose. (Over 50% of their products come from this 20% time.) When I saw Dantae Thrash's video in Evansville Indiana this past summer, I realized that they had hit on something in Evansville's public school systems. For senior projects, students are required to spend 100 hours on a project of their choice (that the school has approved), and students like Dantae are finding careers and passions.