Tuesday, November 20, 2012

List: Final Thoughts on TEDx

Here are a few of the exciting new technologies and ideas being developed by presenters at last weekend's TEDxYouthSanDiego conference:

1.  You can actually own a 3D printer for as little as $1200, which uses drawings to produce 3-D models in plastic (or other materials).  One of the speakers is researching the regeneration of organs from cells, using 3D printing to create a soluble sugar frame for blood vessels within them.  He uses a hacker space to share ideas and developments with people worldwide who collaborate on this lifesaving project, meant to lessen our reliance on organ donors for those in need of transplants.

2.  Jim Mumford is building green roofs and researching new ways to bring more plants inside buildings (plant wall/air filtration systems) to improve air, aesthetics, and quality of life.

3.  Rocio Ortega is a freshman at Wellesley College who is championing girls' education through organizations such as Girl Up and Global Girls.

4.  David Carroll is developing a kind of felt pouch that charges cell phones using nanotechnology.  He made a shirt that charges phones, but the military is borrowing it right now.

5.  Caroline Heldman spoke on the objectification of women observed that men are "being sold that they are sexual subjects (in control), and women are objects.  Moreover, boys are raised (by society) to view their bodies as tools for mastering their environment, while girls are raised to see their bodies as projects to continually work on.  What if we raised girls to view their bodies as tools for mastering their environment?

6.  Alex Day, YouTube phenom, chronicled the saga of his success, explaining that he really wanted to achieve something he didn't know how to do.  But, he pointed out, not knowing how to do something doesn't affect one's burning desire to do it.  Go for it.

7.  Charity Tillemann-Dick sang an aria for us, and then revealed she'd had two lung transplants.  She paid homage to her doctor, who told her that doctors are meant to make safe choices when it comes to patient care, and "we're measured by outcomes." But, her surgeon confided, he measures himself by whether or not he did what he felt was the right decision for his patients.  She's a result of courageous medical care, and generous folks who donated their organs (not to mention her own amazing talent and determination).

8.  Daniel Wilson challenged us to consider what a "bionic human" is anymore, with so many of us with replaced hips, prosthetic limbs, and even neural implants.  He didn't shy away from asking us to consider how society will respond to the possible "advantages" provided by body technology--Oscar Pistorius was allowed to compete in the 2012 Olympics with prosthetic limbs, but what about next time?  What does it mean to 'level the playing field', anyway?  Questions we will increasingly grapple with as new technologies develop.

9.  Representatives from the Right to Play organization encouraged the notion that games and play help learning and community building.  They train educators across the globe in their methods, which transform schools, kids, and communities.

10.  Finally, Esther Earl's father spoke to us about the importance of life, even in grief.  He lost his daughter Esther to cancer when she was only 16, but, he argues, life is the most significant part of life, not death.  Make it so, he  urged his young audience.

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