Category Archives: #20Time

Building Partnerships

Some of you have asked about the difference between partners and a partnership. Here is the difference:

Your grade is deeply intertwined with your partner’s grade. It may not be the same grade, but it is dependent on the work of your partner. Your collaboration will probably be on the same tasks–both working together in the same physical space.

A partnership is quite different, and it can be very powerful in building your #20Time Project. Your may decide that your #20Time idea is good, but not quite “big” enough to meet my guidelines. This is where a partnership comes into play. You may decide to combine forces with another “not big enough” team to create something that truly reaches into the community. Let me give you an example.

Say that you want to bake cookies for a charity. Your cookies are delicious, but putting on a bake sale isn’t exactly your thing. You’re not sure how you would ever find enough cookie-eaters to raise enough money to actually make a difference.

Let’s also say that you have a friend that is a bit of a loner, but knits a mean hat. Perhaps he also knits a mean scarf or two. He also wants to raise money, but doesn’t know how to find enough buyers to raise that money.

While we’re at it, what if you also had a few friends that played in a band. All of you could potentially build a partnership and put on a craft fair that sells cookies and plays music.

Going even further, what if another group of friends is doing an “Adopt-a-Block” on the same day as your craft fair? You could help each other promote your events, and therefore get even more participation.

Wait. What if you had your craft-fair at the end of the street where the “Adopt-a-Block” was? Kind of like a party after the work.


In this scenario, your grade would be your own. It isn’t dependent on anyone else, but the partnerships work together to make a project that is truly exceptional. Think about it.


What is the #20Time Symposium?

Following the lead of 3M, Google, and many other giants of innovation, the 20% Time in the Classroom project models a successful business practice by giving students approximately 20% of their class time to design and execute a project of their choosing. There are many variations, but our project must meet the following guidelines:

  1. Impact your community in a positive way.
  2. Answer a guiding question or solve a problem.
  3. Connect to science (at least tangentially).
  4. Track your progress through measurable goals.
  5. Think big. Then make it bigger.

Three #20Time Ideas for the Activist

A few of you have asked if you can raise money for a charity, but that you aren’t sure which charity to go for. I won’t find you charities, but here are a few causes:

  1. Endangered species. Pick a species, any species. There are many to choose from, from the depths of the oceans to birds on the wing. Or what about lions?
  2. Hold a screeningfor an upcoming documentary you’d like to see. We talked about this with GasLand II, and that sometimes the producers of a film will release a borrowed DVD to a small group before the official release to screen at a home party (or possibly a classroom). It helps promote the film. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask. Here is one example:

    If you are interested in the above film in particular, they ask that you contact the associate producer at

  3. The World Water Crisis. Statistics on the number of deaths through diseases related to contaminated drinking water are staggering. While water is so easily accessed in Arlington, many people spend entire days simply getting clean water back to their homes. Here is just one way to start making a difference:

3D Printer Idea for your #20Time Project

Want to get a 3D printer and make something for your #20Time Project? Make it happen.

  1. Apply for a Grant on Donors Choose.
  2. Make something, like a fossil.

A Grand #20Time Idea for the Gardener

Go on DonorsChoose and write a grant for a Greenhouse. Then, make it happen!

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Three #20Time Ideas for the Future Teacher

If you’ve ever thought about being a teacher, you might want to think about one of the following ideas for your #20Time project. If being a teacher is last on your list, you still might find them interesting:

  • Using a lesson-planning template found online, create lessons around standards-based films. For example, you could create a whole lesson around “The Day After Tomorrow” or “GasLand. They could either be simple viewing guides for substitute teachers (in which case you’d have to completed several films) or create a whole unit around a single film. Then, post your lessons on TeachersPayTeachers and maybe make a bit of cash!
  • Plan and execute a class field trip.
  • Generate a series of labs/hand-on activities to do in class–you could even connect with the early-childhood education people and teach those kids a bit about science. Then, post your lessons on TeachersPayTeachers and maybe make a bit of cash!
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Register for the #20Time Symposium

Hello and a Happy New Year!

Just wanted to let you all know that “tickets” for the #20Time Symposium are up and ready to go. If you are a student, please register under “participant”. All intensified students should register.

Still having a hard time finding ideas? Take a look at this:

If you know someone that might want to attend and see your wonderful #20Time work, please ask them to register as a guest. This can include parents or community members. It’ll be like a Science Fair, but without awards or formal presentations.

See you all tomorrow!

Three #20Time Ideas for the Computer Geek

Okay, I know that as a teacher I’m not supposed to call anyone a geek, but you should know that in the “real world” that is definitely a compliment. Here are three #20Time ideas for the Computer Geek:

  1. Minecraft. I don’t know it, but it looks awesome. Do something cool with it. I bet you can get ideas HERE.
  2. Code up a game. I’m not talking about a trivia game that involves boring science facts (although knowing that limestone is the parent rock of marble is sure to impress your friends). I’m talking about making the user go through a journey of some sort. Maybe they have to terraform Mars. Maybe they have to reverse climate change. Thing big, think grand. Then make a cool game.
  3. Write a plugin for TheScienceRoom that updates us on science stuff like weather, earthquakes, or scientific discoveries. You’re already on, so why not explore the platform and possibly make a buck while you’re at it.
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Something Measurable

As you’re thinking about your #20Time projects, try to include a goal that is measurable. For example, if you are creating a Vimeo channel to host your science-related videos, how many followers do you hope to gain? You should have both a short-term goal (gain 5 followers a week) and a long-term goal (by the time of the Symposium, I will have 50 followers).

A measurable goal can be achieved for almost any type of project if you think creatively. For example, if you choose to do the Google Science Fair, how far do you hope to make it? If you organize an adopt-a-block, how many participants do you hope to see throughout the day?

As always, let me know if you have any questions or any further suggestions.

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