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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


Global Create-a-thon Successfully Brings Agency Using Art & Technology For Its Students
Art and Technology drive the practice of student Agency.  Read the article HERE.
Student Testimonial: Enabling Student's Creative Abilities With New Tech's Create-a-thon 2020
Read HERE about the student's experience as a leader for the Napa Lighted Arts Festival and Global Create-a-thon.  This innovation is student led and student run.
In January of 2020 the New Tech High Digital Design Lab students created a truly global show with animated artwork from New Tech as well as artwork  and collaboration with students from Switzerland, Canada, Vietnam, Finland, Los Angeles, Florida, Maine and West Virginia.  To see the full show CLICK HERE. Join us for 2021! We hope to create a traveling show of artwork, film work, and animations to promote play, creativity, positive messages and more. 
Global Create-a-thon 2020 Overview.mp4
We truly went Global this year! See a student created overview of what we did!https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-R7nPOtS8MfDRPUqkdarbot11bvob_7h/view?usp=sharing
Submit your Artwork! bit.ly/globalshowcasenths
Your K-12 students can submit artwork to the Global Showcase and have it seen on our building during the Napa Lighted Art Festival on Jan. 11-18, 2020 in Napa, California. The deadline for submissions is November 29, 2019.
What is the Global Create-a-thon? 2 minute Student-Created Video
Watch this 2-minute student made film to learn about what the Global Create-a-thon is all about! https://youtu.be/MT5uCtrkwCI
Create-a-thon 2019 Mini-documentary 90sec
Watch this Adobe sponsored video that documented our first every school-wide design challenge from 2018. Great drone footage of the artwork on our building in the Napa Lighted Art Festival https://youtu.be/TjH1feDAgwE
How We Turned a Huge Failed Project into a Major Success
How we turned a failed project into a major success: https://lisagottfried.weebly.com/blog/january-09th-2019
Congratulations 2019 Best in Network winner, Lisa Gottfried! - New Tech Network
New Tech Network, a group of over 200 PBL schools across the U.S. has recognized New Tech High's Create-a-thon project as Best in Network.  See the article showcasing the event HERE!

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 bit.ly/createathonnths 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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