Ideas to Inspire

TFK attended the first TEDYouth event, in New York City

Nov 21, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Linda Tong
RYAN LASH

Hip-hop music? Cockroaches? A gecko’s sticky feet? Believe it or not, these things may be the way to spark creativity in education. At least that’s what organizers of the first-ever TEDYouth event hope. TED is a nonprofit group that is dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.” The event took place on November 19, in New York City.

The theme of the TEDYouth event was “play, learn, build and share.” More than 300 New York City students in grades six through 12 were selected to participate. There were 19 speakers, including world famous scientists, TV hosts, authors, poets, educators and entertainers. Author Steve Stoute spoke about how hip-hop music has influenced urban culture. Robert Full, a professor at the University of California, spoke about inventions that are inspired by nature.

“TED allows kids to see the range of possibilities of what they can become in life,” TEDx director Lara Stein told TFK. She organized the TEDYouth event. “I hope the speakers will inspire young people to try new things and to dream big.”

Ideas that Stick

Cockroaches and geckos make many people cringe. But not Robert Full, the University of California professor who spoke at the event. He has a love for these creatures. He inspired his students to figure out how a gecko sticks to a surface, and that allowed them to discover brand new ways of making things stick. One student used what he learned about geckos to create a bandage that can be peeled off easily. Full is using the sticky technology to create the first search-and-rescue bot that can climb up walls.

Harry Kile, a middle school student, came up with a new type of car seat that doesn’t need a safety belt. The car seat uses gecko-inspired technology to make a kid stick to the seat. Harry earned a real gecko at the event for his innovative idea.  “You don’t know what can’t be done,” Full says. “You could get even more than you could ever imagine.”

Why is the first-ever TEDYouth event so special? Kids can’t attend the adult TED conferences, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams of changing the world too. “At TEDYouth Day, kids get the same opportunity to learn and to get inspired,” 10-year-old Alexandra Frank told TFK.