7th Grader's Genius Hour Project Asks 'What is Beauty?'



In her Genius Hour project last school year, Whitby student Sophia set out to decrypt the meaning of beauty. She not only embarked on defining the word for herself, but also for her classmates as well as students in other grades. Read her account of the project in the post below:

Beauty comes from the inside. Beauty is daring to be yourself. To be caring, compassionate, and generous. Beauty is not a consumer sport.

In my opinion, Mr. [Jamie] McQueen’s Seventh Grade Genius Hour is the most interesting project I have ever participated in. You get to choose any topic in the world that you want to study, and you get an hour per week to create a format to present your findings. I love how the “open-endedness” of it created a way for every student to express themselves in a unique fashion.

What is Beauty? That is a question that I had to ask a million times throughout this project. There are many different definitions, but in my opinion, there’s only one that’s right. Beauty comes from the inside. Beauty is daring to be yourself. To be caring, compassionate, and generous. Beauty is not a consumer sport.

My mom was the first one to give me the idea for my Genius Hour project. She wanted to give me the tools to feel beautiful, and teach others about beauty as well. The next day at school, I noticed how misled my classmates had been about beauty. They didn’t realize that they were beautiful because they were kind. They believed that beauty came from outer appearance. I wished that I could teach them what I had been raised to know. It would make them so much more comfortable with themselves!

When I made my final decision about Genius Hour, I got right to work. I found a mentor who was just as invested in this topic as I was – Dr. [Julie Marie] Frye, the librarian at my school.  She inspired me to create a research study with girls at my school as participants. Little did she know that one little idea would become the highlight of my project.

The experiment consisted of three parts: the Investigation, the Treatment, and the Results. In the Investigation, I gave a survey to a group of fourth grade girls to see what they thought about real beauty. During the Treatment, I read them a short story that I wrote, and described what I thought real beauty was. In the last stage, the Results, I gave them the survey again to see how their answers changed. 


It was amazing and eye opening to see the drastic shift in their answers. At the beginning of the experiment, some girls believed they were not beautiful at all. But by the end, they were very happy with how they are.

The things I shared with them resonated and made them realize the truth about beauty. They are beautiful because of the caring things they do, and not because of anything else.

I believe that the meaning of true beauty, is a message that everyone in the world needs to know and I want to continue spreading this message. What I really want people to take away from this is that they are beautiful when they are kind, generous, caring, honest, and true to themselves. When those virtues are embraced, they will be confident in themselves, and absolutely beautiful!

Sophia will be presenting on her project at the American Educational Studies Association's 2016 Conference in Seattle this November.

Link to download "10 Things to Look For In an Inspirational Classroom"



Sophia is an eighth grader at Whitby School who, for her Genius Hour project, challenged students to rethink the definition of "beauty," identifying what the word truly means.