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18.2.2020 | Francisco Sipiora Gutierrez |

Student Testimonial: Enabling Student's Creative Abilities With New Tech's Create-a-thon 2020

Francisco Sipiora Gutierrez, a student at New Technology High School shares his experience participating in the global design challenge, Create-a-thon 2020 and how the program has helped inspire him to apply his own interests into his learning projects.

Waking up at five-thirty in the morning was probably the hardest part about running New Tech's Create-a-thon for the second year in a row. I had been setting up computers for four hours the day before to make sure my classmates and other students would have all the necessary Adobe software that they would need in the morning, so I was quite tired. However, students would be arriving in a couple of hours, so I needed to make sure everything was running smoothly when we launched the project. 

The Create-a-thon is a school-wide design challenge that the Digital Lab Design class holds on the first day back to school. Students are put into groups and they have the whole day to create a work of art using the Adobe products provided. Last year we held the Create-a-thon in our school only, so this year we had the desire to introduce this project to other communities and expand it on a global scale. On the morning of January 13th, we held a video conference with San Marino High School in Los Angeles, Nitro High School in West Virginia, and George Brown University Design School from Toronto at 7 am before our own students arrived. A professor from Vietnam and a professor from central Florida also tuned in to the video conference around noon. Averi, who was one of the product managers for the Create-a-thon, introduced all the participating schools to the curriculum and layout of the project.


For the rollout of the project we presented to the students the schedule for the day and brought up some guest speakers, from artists to Adobe employees, to come talk about digital art and how innovative and important a project like this is. The rest of the day we spent rotating around the rooms helping out students if they encountered a roadblock in their workflow. There were four workshops that we had during the day run by employees from Adobe and each focused on a separate adobe application where students could come and learn how to edit and create digital art. 

Taking this project globally was probably the biggest step for us as a class. It was great to see submissions from not just my peers, but from students all over the world as well. Prior to the Create-a-thon, we sent out a submission toolkit to educators around the globe, and we received artwork from students in Finland, Maine, and Switzerland. At the end of the day we had hundreds of submission, local and global. We held a final presentation where we featured some of the best artwork of the project, and all of the artwork was added to the Digital Design Lab's projection in the Napa Lighted Arts Festival in downtown Napa. 


A project like this was a truly amazing experience for students and organizers alike. Both years that I have participated in this project it has been very impactful to my education. The fact that each student had endless creative ability with minimal guidelines allowed them to apply their own interests to their artwork and create some amazing compositions. The incentive that students had was that whatever they created would be shown on a seventy foot wall in downtown Napa. That was why this project was so meaningful to me, because there were real world expectations for me to produce a product for the community. The reason that Create-a-thon was such a success was because it meant so much more to the students that organized it than a simple grade. This entirely student-run project took a lot of planning, and it was extremely rewarding to see the effort we put into organizing this project represented in the wonderful artwork created that day. 

“I believe the create-a-thon would be a great event to replicate anywhere. It can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. They are completely customizable. This is what’s so great. Schools, Organizations or even Communities can recreate this event with the magnitude they wish.” -Averi Dropping, Product Manager

For our efforts in creating this project we were named by the organization HundrED as one of the top one hundred global education innovators last year. If you would like to read another article about the project there are two linked in the images below. One from HundrED and another from the Napa Valley Register.

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To know more how you can bring Global Create-a-thon to your students, check out their innovation page.