Oct 12 2006

Education Contest

Creativity on Display

NICOLE KELLY HAS BEEN INTERESTED in art and graphic design for as long as she can remember. It doesn’t take much to figure out where and how that interest began: Her mother, an artist with her own interior design business, wields a hefty influence on her daughter’s artistic nature.

“I’ve literally been surrounded by art all my life,” says Kelly, a junior at Beall High School in Frostburg, Md. “There are usually sketch pads lying around the house, and you can’t miss the smell of paint in the air. Mom has always stressed an appreciation for art and the value of creative expression.”

Click HereBut while her mother isn’t inclined to use technology to create art, the younger Kelly enjoys using digital media to express her creativity. “My mom isn’t into technology,” she says, “but I like using computers as an artistic outlet. There are so many exciting ways to use technology.”

Using digital photography and a PC with graphic design software, Kelly painstakingly created “The Tree of Technology,” a colorful entry that earned her first place in CDW•G’s third annual education contest. “I see technology as a tree that branches out, reaching everyone,” she explains.

The education contest, co-sponsored by Adobe Systems, Inc., serves as a way for CDW•G to be more involved in education at the classroom level and see firsthand how students use technology. The contest is open to high school juniors and seniors, and students are asked to create an original piece of digital artwork and write a 250-word essay that addresses how technology enhances learning.

Entries are judged on creativity, style, distinctiveness, use of color, space and medium, as well as the originality, grammar and content of the essay. Kelly’s entry was selected as the top winner from among 263 entries nationwide.

As this year’s first-place winner, Kelly receives a notebook PC outfitted with Adobe Creative Suite software, a printer and a digital camera kit, among other prizes. Her high school will also receive a $1,000 gift certificate from CDW•G. Nine other high school students are receiving a variety of technology products— ranging from digital cameras to publishing software.

“These high school students are tomorrow’s inventors, writers and designers, so we implemented a contest whereby they could express their wonderful creativity through technology,” says Chris Rother, vice president for education sales at CDW•G. “The contest also enables CDW•G to see how the next generation is using technology, something that enables us to adjust our own horizons. It is a wonderful learning experience for everyone.”

Art Plus Technology

Working at school and on her home computer, Kelly’s project took about four weeks. “I was so surprised,” says the very modest teen about receiving top honors in the contest. “I remember looking at last year’s finalists, who were amazing. I didn’t expect to win. This is quite an honor.”

Kelly isn’t the only one who’s excited. Her art teacher, Susan Baker, is also pleased. “Nicole is an extremely creative student with a lot of natural ability,” she says. “She has excellent drawing skills and is always looking at unique ways to express herself.”

Baker uses the education contest as a tool in her graphics design class because it requires the students to express ideas in writing as well as in art. “The contest gives kids an excellent way to showcase their expressive skills,” Baker says. “It’s great because it helps expose students at our small rural high school to the competitive side of the graphic design field. The skills required in this type of contest are important to students interested in careers such as advertising and Web design.”

Baker’s graphics design class started out in fall 2003 as a pilot program when a handful of students, including Kelly, expressed interest in learning more about how to use technology to create art. The students worked in the computer lab during their lunch hour to design the school’s award-winning Web site.

“The computer is a good outlet for kids to discover and hone their graphic design skills,” Baker points out. “Using technology, you don’t have to draw well on paper to be a good graphic designer.”

Brenda Owens, a teacher at Pearland High School in Pearland, Texas, agrees that the CDW•G contest gives students a chance to see how their classroom work relates to what is expected in a graphic design career. “This is really a wonderful educational opportunity,” Owens says.

“We have a wide variety of students and backgrounds. Some are computer literate; some are not. This contest lets them know that technology can open a whole new world of possibilities.” For two years in a row, Pearland has had four winners in the contest’s top 10.

Kelly, who has one more year of high school, isn’t sure what avenue she’ll pursue when she heads to college. She has many interests, but regardless of her ultimate career path, Kelly says “Art will always be part of my life.”

The Tree of Technology

The growth of the “technology tree” has enhanced my education. As it branches out into hundreds of different fields, I become exposed to more of its wonders. My mind and education feed off the growth of technology. Throughout my years inside and outside of school, I have used technological advances to help me explore different cultures, communicate easily and expand my mind’s horizon.

Without computers, research for class projects and essays would be too time-consuming. Although books are still a solid reference, the Internet expands what they offer. All the communication we have and use today allows us to contact just about anyone, anywhere, at any time. There is always something going on in the world, but how could we know about it if it were not for television, radio, the Internet and the telephone.

Technology has allowed us to explore far out into space, deep into the seas and everywhere along the way. These discoveries have opened my mind to all the possible things I can do with my life and have made me aspire to do even more.

Just as a tree grows and strengthens with age, technology reaches out and strengthens with time. The many types of technology create opportunities for anyone to learn and enjoy what life has to offer. Without the development of technology, I would not have the same opportunities to learn what I have today.

—Nicole Kelly

2004 CDW•G Education Contest Finalists

2nd Place: Max Burkett,
“Combining Classic and Contemporary”
Whitmer High School, Toledo, Ohio

3rd Place: Josh Kozel,
“Quilt of the Past, Patchwork for the Future”
Pearland High School, Pearland, Texas

4th Place: Kaiti Robinson,
“Open Your Mind With Your Bare Hands”
Beall High School, Frostburg, Md.

5th Place: Vladimir Nazarov,
“Outside the Box”
William H. Hall High School, West Hartford, Conn.

6th Place: Jessica Hoffbuhr,
“The Superhighway of Technology”
Cassia Regional Technical Center, Heyburn, Idaho

7th Place: Ivan Rodriguez,
“Blocks of Technology”
Pearland High School, Pearland, Texas

8th Place: Deleigh Hermes,
“Making the Impossible Happen”
Pearland High School, Pearland, Texas

9th Place: Myra Zavala,
“The Technology Lifeline”
Itasca High School, Itasca, Texas

10th Place: Lacee Keller,
Pearland High School, Pearland, Texas

Honorable Mention: Ryan Johnston,
“Technology Connects Us”
Woodstock Academy, Woodstock, Conn.

Honorable Mention: Danielle Lambert,
“Technology Is Preparation for the Future”
Woodstock Academy, Woodstock, Conn.