Featured Resource: The 20 Time Project

Maggie Bruski

Each month, SEED Innovation Coaches will choose a resource from the PD Market to highlight as a Featured Resource. Throughout that month, you will have opportunities to participate in interactive activities and earn additional recertification contact hours. For June 2016, Innovation Coach Maggie Bruski wonders how 20Time could maximize student creativity and curiosity, leading them into the future with purpose. 


The other day when my daughter was home sick from school, we snuggled up on the couch and watched the movie “Tomorrowland.”  In one scene the main character, Casey, sits through lecture after lecture in her high school classes where her teachers pontificate about everything that is wrong about our world. Global warming, weapons of mass destruction, society edging its way towards a dystopian existence. Through it all a visibly frustrated Casey raises her hand, hoping to be allowed to say her piece. When a teacher finally calls on her at the end of his rant, she asks “Can we fix it? I know things are bad, but what are we going to do to fix it?” The fictional teacher just stares at her like she has three heads and then is rescued by the bell.


Casey, like many young people today, is truly motivated to find solutions to problems that move them. Small or large, scores of students want to find the fixes that will make their world better. This scene and the rest of the movie got me thinking about a new educational catch-phrase: 20Time.

What is 20Time? Its origins can be tied back to the 50’s and the company 3M, but it was Google that brought it to the 21st century. 20Time tasks innovators to think outside of the box 20% of their time, to find a project that inspires them, one that solves a problem, or speaks to them personally. This brings us back to Casey and her question “Can we fix it?” Just imagine if we let our students tackle the world’s problems, and transfer their classroom learning to make our world a better place? The sky would be the limit! And the cherry on top of 20Time is this is all a student’s choice, a project of their own design.  

How can this creativity and curiosity pay off? Watch the following video about how a nine-year-old boy named Caine in East Los Angeles spent his summer creating his very own arcade. 


Caine made his games out of cardboard and other everyday objects. He was deeply invested in the project, it mattered little to him that he had yet to have any customers. If schools could channel the enthusiasm Caine had for his project into their classrooms using the 20Time model, just think of how many students would suddenly be engaged in their learning! This type of ownership in learning is exactly how we move students from passive or compliant engagement to active learning. When students are passionate about what they are learning, they will go above and beyond to understand and apply concepts to the task at hand. With 20Time we can allow students to explore the world around them, focus on what interests them most, and create solutions that matter.

Think about it

  • What do you think of 20Time?

  • How might you implement it in your classroom?

  • How could you structure your classes so that students could take ownership of their learning through 20Time?

  • What shifts might you make in your practice to incorporate 20Time?




Susanmarie Oddo's picture
Susanmarie Oddo
Take the time to watch the YouTube video featuring Caine. You'll be glad you did! Amazing. Uplifting. Awesome.