Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Attended TEDxDenverEd (6/28/10)

Have you ever watched a TED video and wished you could attend one of their events? Well I have many times and I was one of the lucky people who received an invitation to attend TEDxDenverEd. TEDx events are locally organized independent events that follow the TED format. I had to fill out an online application and then wait anxiously to see if I'd get invited. When my invitation hit my inbox, I could hardly contain my excitement. A while later the speakers were added to the website and I started reading up on those I did not know. I exchanged tweets with Dafna Michaelson and Brian Crosby and told them I couldn't wait to meet them in person at the event.

Monday, June 28 finally came and I headed from the Colorado Convention Center and the ISTE convention to the Denver Performing Arts Center. While we waited for the doors to open, you could feel the buzz of anticipation. We were given a metal water bottle with the TEDx logo on it filled with ice cold water which came in handy because the theater lobby was hot. I met up with my friend, John Shoemaker, from Palm Beach, Florida so we sat together for the event.

As each speaker took to the stage, I was amazed at how calm their voices were while they were delivering such powerful words. My personal favorites were Brain Crosby, Adora Svitak, Dafna Michaelson, and Sarah Elizabeth Ippel.

Brian told about how he gets his disadvantaged fourth graders connected globally. He doesn't let their lack of money or background knowledge stand in their way of accomplishing amazing things. He dazzled the audience with the videos of their latest science project The High Hopes High Altitude Balloon Project.

Adora Svitak used her mighty vocabulary to remind of all that we can learn from children. At twelve years old her stage presence outshines most adults. She is sassy and possesses a great sense of humor. You can view one of her previous TED talks here.

Dafna, a single mother, took on a remarkable tour of the country last year. She traveled to all 50 states in a 52 week period to find average people who are changing things around them. She told us how she encouraged her own third grade daughter to be a change agent at her school. During the break people in the audience were encouraged to add ideas to the towers being created to showcase ideas on how to change a problem in their area. The winning idea with be awarded $1,000 to help get their idea off the ground.

How tenacious are you? Well Sarah Elizabeth Ippel told us about her tenacity. She had to present her idea for the Academy for Global Citizenship three years in a row before it was finally excepted. Imagine having a school in the middle of Chicago that has it own garden and serves organic food at breakfast and lunch. That is what she built in a old barrel factory. Now it is a school that others would like to see emulated in their neighborhood.

As each presenter delivered their talk, Janine Underhill was onstage creating a visual representation on a PolyVision Eno whiteboard. I was fascinated by her work during the first part of the evening. During the break Ashara Ekundayo said it was now time to give away the board. I couldn't believe when she said, "Is there a Paula Naugle in the house?" John had to just about push me out of my seat.

What an evening it turned out to be. I got to attend the "hot ticket" event in Denver, heard great speakers who pushed my thinking, and won an Eno. Thank you to the TEDxDenverEd organizers, speakers, and sponsors for a wonderful evening I will never forget.