Snapchat Assignment An “App”licable Exercise

Johnston High School students in Kayla Bousum’s Graphic, Sound & Animation Design course recently completed an assignment with an all-too-real application to their own lives: create a filter for the Snapchat app.

lauren Bellis in front of a computer working on a design project.

JHS senior Lauren Bellis works on her geographic Snapchat filter. The filter was accepted by Snapchat and is available for use.

“On a scale of one to ten, I’m probably a ten when it comes to using Snapchat,” said senior Lauren Bellis. “I just really like it, it’s easier than texting. I’m on Snapchat all the time. This assignment was fun because it’s completely relatable to something that almost everyone uses on a daily basis.”

Bellis isn’t alone when it comes to loving Snapchat. The popular mobile app has more than 100 million daily active users. The concept is an app that allows users to send videos and pictures to friends or followers. The photos or videos are viewable for up to 10 seconds, then disappear. People use it to message others, and place captions, doodles, or filters/lenses over the top of the photo or video message. The finished product is called a “snap.” More than 400 million snaps are sent every day and 8,796 photos are shared on Snapchat every second. (Snapchat stats via

Bousum, a business education teacher, decided to turn students’ love and familiarity for Snapchat into an assignment. Filters – graphic images that can be placed over a user’s existing image – can be created for specific geographic locations. Bousum asked students to use Photoshop design software to create three geographic Snapchat filters.

“Students created the filters for places like Johnston, where they plan to attend college, or even where they were going on spring break,” Bousum said. “When they were finished, they could submit their designs to Snapchat and if accepted, they received extra credit.”

Two of Bousum’s current students had their designs accepted. Bellis created an Iowa State University filter and sophomore Nick Baedaro also created a filter for Johnston. Three former design students also had their filters accepted: senior Emily Poss, junior Jessica McKee, and senior Carson Mithelman. A number of geographic-specific filters are available to users at any given time.

“I wanted to create something with the Johnston flames, but Snapchat doesn’t allow for the use of a trademarked logo or mark,” Baedaro said. “So, I used Photoshop and created a filter that still used the flames and Johnston colors. People have told me they like it and it’s pretty cool to see my design out there for anyone in the area to use on their snaps.”

Other assignments in Bousum’s design course include creating prom tickets, fall play and spring musical posters, and working with real-life clients to assist them with design needs.

JHS teacher Kayla Bousum works with a students in one of her classes.

JHS Business teacher Kayla Bousum (standing) helps students in her Graphic, Sound & Animation Design course.

“Whenever possible, I try to give them projects that are actually used, not just something for a made-up company,” Bousum said. “With this assignment for Snapchat filters, it completely leveled the playing field because all the students are so familiar with the app and use it so much. It ups their buy-in to do the assignment because they absolutely understand how it will be used. And, I think they enjoyed it.”

Bellis agrees.

“I have a couple of friends up at ISU and they used the filter and sent it in a snap to me,” Bellis said. “I definitely think I’ll create and submit more when I’m an actual Iowa State student.”