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Global Create-a-thon

A 100% student-led project where youth get to play with light, art and creativity on a global scale.

What happens when you give students a high visibility space in the community to present their creative projects and then give them a day to create art, animations, drawings, photographs, stop action, green screen videos to fill that public space? Pure magic. This project is a collaborative design challenge where all the artwork created is incorporated into Lighted Art Festivals around the world.

HundrED 2020


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2020

Web presence






Target group
May 2019
Everything in this project is authentic and mirrors a real-world working situation from daily scaffolding to benchmarks and the culminating product.

About the innovation

What is Global Create-a-thon

What we do?

This project is a day-long design challenge where all the artwork created is incorporated into Lighted Art Festivals and other public venues around the world. The live event is combined with a month long call for art from students from around the globe. This year’s event included an entire high school, two additional high school classes in other cities, as well as two college level classes, a team of high school students who owned/planned/led the event, and finally, a team of teachers, and industry experts who supported the students in their process. Moving forward, students want to continue to collaborate internationally and showcase student artwork at lighted art festivals and other venues (both in person and online) around the world.

This project gives students an entire day to explore, create, make and share their works of art with the greater community. This event can be done on a small scale, within a classroom, to large scale, including many school collaborating together. Art can be created in both low tech ways with pencils and crayons and high tech ways, with tablets, computers and cameras. The driving force in this project is to give students the power to plan the day and then run the event for their fellow classmates, while providing the support from industry experts and teachers. The project is 100% student-led and 100% teacher supported.

Students plan and run the event, create lessons and tutorials for their fellow students and get to showcase their natural abilities as artists and leaders in their own right. Through our large international network, we can help to find industry/community experts who are willing to mentor leader students in other cities and countries.

It is critical that we raise the stakes for students by showcasing artwork in a public manner, outside of the classroom, so that communities understand the importance of student voice within the larger eco-system of community.

Why we do it?

According to the 2019 study by Adobe: Creativity and Education: Why it matters, 71% of college-age professionals say creative thinking should be taught as a course, like math and science. 78% say that creativity is very important to their career and 82% wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students. But in our rush to cover content, teachers and administrators are forgetting to make space and time for students to explore their creativity. This project also serves to amplify student voice in the greater community.

Impact & scalability

Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

Implementation steps

Choose a student leadership team

This team can live in a particular class or be a broader steering committee

“Hire” or assign specific roles to each student (Project Manager, Technician, Logistics, Designer, Curriculum developer)

Get administrative buy-in

Choose a date when the whole school can participate

Making space and time for creativity without too many expectations is critical

Have student arrange for availability of technology/materials as needed

Students kick off the day

Explain the event, what it’s for, where the best artwork will be shown. You can even video conference with one our students to do the kick-off with you!

Provide prizes or swag for the winners if you choose

Create and store video tutorials where students and teachers can access learning whenever they need it. You can also use the existing tutorials made by students in Napa.

Provide calendar of events

Instructions about who has which role on your student team

Maps of the event

See to see our example.

Work with adults as mentors

Adult artists can lead workshops during the event and provide art and technical support for the day

Mentors can help students run the day by shadowing them and helping them in their specific roles

Throughout the planning process students will need to be guided by people who run large events for a living

Plan to meet regularly with a mentor in person or via video video chat to keep students on track

Let the students lead

Think of yourself as the product manager or producer.

Put as much responsibility on the students as possible while following up to make sure it all comes together

Contact Us to Collaborate

There are three ways you can get involved!

1) Submit student artwork to the Global Showcase and have that work shown at the Napa Lighted Art Festival on the side of a building. Contact us for details.

2) Run your own Create-a-thon at your school using our toolkit as support. Students are available to consult and support your students. Resulting artwork can then be submitted to the Global Showcase.

3) Run a Satellite Create-a-thon on the same day as New Tech High runs theirs and live-stream the event. Video conference in during event hours to see the all-school rollout, learn details about the theme for this year, get technical help online and from students in Napa, and share your work at the end of the day. (Participation in this option depends on where in the world you are located and time zones)

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