CCCTC Students Collaborate with John Schlimm to Launch “The Brain That Changed the World”

Clearfield County Career and Technology Center (CCCTC) High School students, Workforce Solutions for North Central PA, and international award-winning author, artist, advocate, and educator John Schlimm have collaborated to launch “THE BRAIN THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is
yours)” Project during May 2024, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. The multimedia project’s mission is to inspire people of all ages—especially K-12 children and teens—to think about their brains and to see the potential of that three-pound organ inside their heads: well-being, talents, skills, creativity, imagination, etc.

Conceptualized by Schlimm, “THE BRAIN” Project is a sequel to his Participatory/Interactive Art project “THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours),” which has been installed across the country during the past decade. This inaugural edition of the project enlisted the participation of students in CCCTC’s Drafting & Design Technology, Digital Media Arts, and Culinary Arts & Food Management programs. “THE BRAIN” Project’s student-designed components include nearly 1,000 backpack tags, 7,000 stickers, dozens of posters, a photo essay, hundreds of brain-shaped cookies, and a PA Media & Design Competition award-winning short documentary. These original items were produced to be shared
with K-12 students across all schools in the Clearfield County School District throughout May.

“I walked into CCCTC a few months ago—this was my very first time in a Career and Technology Center—and I found the most incredible, skills-based academic environment filled with some of the most brilliant and creative young minds I could ever hope to work with,” said Schlimm, who is also the author of “What Would Gen-Z Do?: Everything You Don’t Know About Gen-Z But Should” and co-creator of “The Gen-Z Time Capsule” in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum. “Aligning with my mission to encourage folks to think more about their brains, the CCCTC students, along with their teachers and the administration, were immediately on-board for ‘THE BRAIN’ Project, and over the past several months have passionately translated their imaginations, talents, and skills into thousands of items and even an award-winning short film that will now ripple out into the world to help achieve that goal.”

Schlimm and Workforce Solutions have been working with the CCCTC students since January, collaboratively brainstorming, discussing, creating, and manufacturing the designs, materials, components, and roll-out for “THE BRAIN” Project.

Like Schlimm’s other similar projects, “THE BRAIN” Project is rooted at the intersection of STEAM x MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS x COMMUNITY SERVICE—all of which are also priorities for young people today, like the participating CCCTC students. And true to Schlimm’s goal, the students
were also drawn to this fresh, grassroots, attention-grabbing approach to thinking about the brain in contrast to the flood of cliché, virtual-signaling content, which many young people admittedly ignore.

“‘THE BRAIN THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)’ Project has been a great real-world experience for the students in the Drafting and Design and Digital Media Arts programs,” said CCCTC “BRAIN” Project Coordinator and Drafting & Design Technology Instructor Brad Dixon. “The beginning phase of the project provided the students with the opportunity to be very creative with few limitations. The approach allowed students to come up with very diverse and unique designs. Through a series of collaborative meetings students provided each other with praise as well as constructive criticism, which allowed them to continually improve their designs throughout the process and grow their talents. When we went to production mode the students got to see first-hand what it is like to work under pressure to meet a deadline, which is often difficult to emulate in the classroom. Overall, I was really impressed by the students’ ability to work together in a productive way to accomplish a common goal.”

“THE BRAIN” Project also highlights the importance of professional collaborations—such as CCCTC, John Schlimm , Workforce Solutions—and counters the numerous negative news reports about education by showcasing a positive side of schools today, especially the great skills-based training/work being done at Career and Technology Centers across the country like CCCTC.

“It’s awesome for our students to work on real life projects that could positively impact many students,” said CCCTC Executive Director Fred Redden. “The education gained within the walls of the CCCTC is hands-on, practical, and is application driven. To see three programs—Drafting, Digital Media Arts, and Culinary Arts—working together to produce and promote this venture is truly remarkable.”

“THE BRAIN THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)” Project was made possible through funding in part by Workforce Solutions for North Central PA. The Business Education Partnership (BEP) at Workforce Solutions is about connecting businesses and schools through partnership programs. This partnership offers career-related experiences and opportunities for students to learn about high-priority occupations and career paths available in our region. This partnership is made possible through BEP grant funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PA Department of Labor and Industry, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“‘THE BRAIN THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)’ Project has been an amazing collaboration with John and the CCCTC,” said Workforce Solutions for North Central PA Project Coordinator Colleen Prechtl. “It allows the students in our region a chance to put into practice all of the skills they have learned at CCCTC and place those into a meaningful and impactful statement legacy.”