Check out the South Texas Ideas Festival

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Marcos Silva is a TED-Ed Innovative Educator at IDEA Public Schools in Texas. He is passionate about pushing innovation through community-based learning.


How do you create pride of place when you live on a border? Marcos and his students created the South Texas Ideas Festival (STXi) to engage young adults in Rio Grande Valley in a day of dialogue with local community leaders about culture, community, and identity.


Students welcome visitors to the South Texas Ideas Festival.

Students welcome visitors to the South Texas Ideas Festival.

The South Texas Ideas Festival (STXi) is a student-led organization that cultivates active young citizens. Over the course of the school year, this group of 25 students planned an event that inspired 170 teenagers from across the Rio Grande Valley. They selected speakers and activities to showcase ideas, stories, and resources tied to local culture and identity. “I want STXi to live past a one-day event and foster conversations that will lead into more culturally relevant teaching, civic engagement and volunteerism,” says Marcos.

This project amplifies the work and ideas of STXi students via several ways: All STXi talks are on YouTube here. The students have started a podcast that continues the conversations from STXi. “Lastly, and perhaps the most impactful, my students have been able to create inspiring friendships through the TED-Ed community,” says Marcos. “From inviting our STXi student leader to give a TED-Ed Weekend talk, to having our other members in the audience, my students have used these opportunities to develop their vision of STXi in our community and the impact it has in our world.” Watch a video of highlights from STXi here.

Below, Marcos offers advice on creating a student-led community event:

  • Let your students’ interests drive the work.
  • Have your students spend some time listening to the community before they start planning the event.
  • Remind students that this is about learning and developing problem-solving skills. If they don’t know how to do something (sponsorship packet, annual report, etc.), they can Google it.
  • Community leaders love to hear from youth. Let your students be the speakers.

This article is part of the TED-Ed Innovation Project series, which highlights 25+ TED-Ed Innovation Projects designed by educators, for educators, with the support and guidance of the TED-Ed Innovative Educator program. You are welcome to share, duplicate and modify projects under this Creative Commons license to meet the needs of students and teachers. Art credit: Shutterstock.