TEDYouth Session 1 The present is the future


All photos: Ryan Lash

Starting at 3:30 Eastern: Session 2!
Watch the TEDYouth livestream in English >>
Ver TEDYouth en español en linea >>

Where do we start? With a question: What can you share with the world? Rives and Kelly and the entire audience share answers on the mic:

“We can share style and music and fashion.”

“We can share our dreams. Because the past is in the past, and the present is in the future.”

“What I can share is curiosity. Most of us here really don’t have a place in what we’re doing — our curiosity is what we have to offer right now.”

Girl Scout troop 3077 took the stage to say: “Everyone speak out! if you have a good idea, you should share it with the world.”


David Gallo is a pioneer in ocean exploration and an enthusiastic ambassador between the sea and those of us on dry land. Between his many TEDTalks he’s shared the amazements of the ocean with more than 3 million people. At TEDYouth he drove the audience through some of his favorite underwater landscapes — like an underwater volcano (fire + underwater = yes) … an underwater lake … and did you know “the largest waterfall on the planet is actually under the ocean”? There’s a world of life underwater, from tiny eyeless shrimp to the elusive and terrifying vampire squid. As he says: “You think nothing can live there, but even in the deepest darkest places you’ll find life.”


Physicist Déborah Berebichez, also known as “The Science Babe,” studies the science behind everyday life (like the physics of wearing high heels). (Watch her talk from TEDxEast) At TEDYouth, she and the audience played with sound. “How does a physicist see sound?” she asked. It consists of a wave, and she led the audience in a life-size demo (yes, we did The Wave) to show how each molecule in a wave moves simply up and down — but moves energy forward. “Each molecule transfers energy through the wave (whether light, sound or water waves).” She wrapped up with a wild demo of focused sound — and a video of her friend, a blind cyclist who “sees” road obstacles by clicking at them like a bat.


Leah Buechley is an MIT designer who mixes high and low tech to create smart and playful results. As an electronics designer, she says, the big problem with her work is: it’s still too difficult to make, requiring soldering and specialized knowledge to help you realize your ideas. She asks: “What if you could design and build electronics fluidly and expressively?” So what’s she working on? Amazing and elegant paper-based electronics that make music, art and light shows. As @JuneCohen tweeted: Leah Buechley created a kit for “sketching” electronics. Paper + pen + sensors = crazy cool working demos. One of her videos that had the audience oohing and aaahing: Electronic Popables


Garth Sundem is a mathematician who uses math to answer everyday questions, such as whether to goof off or study. Onstage, he developed an equation around the question: What are my chances with Hayden Panettiere? It lays out as Ay+Fy+Wc / Ah +Fh+R+Ds^3 and contains the following factors: How attractive am I? Does she have a boyfriend? Do I know her, or know someone who knows her? It all came together for a distressingly low probability. “This is how you write logic in the language of math,” he says, learning to identify every measurable factor that contributes to a smart choice.


Chris Anderson is the curator of the TED Conference. (Watch his TEDTalks) But behind the accomplished curator of TED is … a curious boy. In front of a charming animation Chris asked us to think about questions we just don’t know the answer to. As he says: “Diving into questions is exciting because it takes you to the edge of knowledge. You never know what you’ll find there.” He asks two big questions. One: How many universes are there? (“There is no agreement on the question, but the answer is between 0 and infinity.”) And two: Why haven’t we found life outside our world? “The fact that we can ask these questions and dream these dreams may be one of the most important facts about the Universe.”


Carvens Lissaint is a Haitian American performance artist who’s been gracing stages across the country since age 16. He’s the 2011 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion and was ranked 2nd in the nation at the Adult National Poetry Competition. And he killlllllled it. “I’m bout to get gangsta scholar up in here,” he said. “I’m just trying to get my education. Put the scholarships in the bag.”


Arianne Cohen is 6 feet 3 inches tall. Yup. She’s the author of The Tall Book, where she shares the pros and cons of living life as a 6’3″ woman. What’s it like to be a tall little girl — when in every fairy tale, as she points out, “The little heroine always slays or brutally murders the tall person.” Being tall as a young person was not good. But being tall as an older person, she says, is amazing. “It’s important to take the long view, and understand these things are going to play out over a long time.”


Robert Full studies cockroach legs and gecko feet. (Watch his TEDTalks) What’s his big idea? “Science is not a recipe in a cookbook, and learning is not memorizing a set of facts.” His research is helping build the perfect “distributed foot” for tomorrow’s robots, based on evolution’s ancient engineering, including the super sticky foot of the gecko. A gecko has hundreds of tiny pads on its foot, divided into a thousand more endings — something like “2 billion nano-sized split ends” that make for an amazing adhesive. “Imagine all the things you could make from gecko adhesive!” It’s emerging into a billion-dollar industry, driven mainly by … curiosity. “Curiosity-based research leads to the biggest benefits because you don’t know what can’t be done.”


About this next talk, @mobrowne writes: #dear twitter: cause I know u wouldn’t believe me. #cockroachleg #tedyouth yfrog.com/gyboxjzj

Greg Gage has combined invertebrate preparations with off-the-shelf electronics, to create a kit that could provide insight into the inner workings of the body, specifically the brain. Which sounds kind of heady until you see what that actually means: he takes a cockroach leg (don’t worry they grow back) and plugs it into a piece of tech called the Spikerbox. And he makes it dance. Play music into the Spikerbox and the leg kicks in time. And when you beatbox to it: “This is the first time this has happened in the history of mankind: beatboxing to a cockroach leg.”


Heading into the break, Rives freestyled:
“I think I’m about to wet my pants … ‘cuz this guy just made a cockroach leg dance / and the first guy said, ‘Hey you know what? There’s an octopus in the sea with eyes on its butt.’”