“Play” is Theme of 2018 TEDxYouth@BrowningSchool Event

Chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department Anderson Harp provides the following report on the 2018 TEDxYouth@BrowningSchool event:

Head of School John Botti helped close our TEDxYouth@BronwingSchool event in February 2017 by remarking how play can inspire. Soon after “Innovate” wrapped, the rising executive team met with faculty advisors Melodie Ting and me to begin renewal of the TEDx license. Unanimously, the committee chose “Play” as the theme for our third annual event, which took place at Browning on May 12.

Student talent representing Forms III through VI collectively joined their skills to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience open to anyone in our community, free of charge, Nearly 100 guests gathered in the Kurani Gymnasium by 10:30 Saturday morning for the warm welcome given by executive producers Rohan Singh ’18 and Jackson Richter ’18.

Speaker highlights included the following:

Julie Kerwin, Browning parent, is Chief Elemental Officer of IAmElemental. She is a voracious researcher, writer and thinker on the topics of gendered toys, creativity in children, and the power of play. Ms. Kerwin shatters stereotype with her powerful story as the creator of the first female action figures designed specifically for children.

Max Gregori ’19 is a digital startup founder. Having lived in Germany, South Africa and the USA, Max gained an awareness of cultural barriers which can exist not only domestically but, even more so, internationally. While it may make sense that South Africans do things differently than people in the U.S., what has really startled Gregori most is that people from developing countries seem to appreciate the smallest things in life more than people do in the wealthiest countries.

Alfonso Laffont ’19 discussed how he followed the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and how he utilized it. From a young age he used computers, learning more about them every day. He is attending some classes but learned most of what he knows about AI through doing, making and learning, both on- and offline.

Justin Blitz '96 is an attorney in New York City. Drawing upon his experience with personal injury cases, Mr. Blitz shared a personal perspective on safety and play. He discussed safety in all its components, from the simple to the more complex. The humanistic link to play addresses risk versus benefit analysis that may not always be at the forefront of one’s mind.

The entire program continued to spark conversations, discussions and connections among all attendees, speakers, staff and volunteers outside the livestream on the main stage.

Workshop highlights included the following:

Giordan E. '20 & Dylan S. '21 led the coding workshop. They started by covering some of the basics of coding and by the end of the session, all participants had a functioning HTML website with text, images and other basic tags implemented.

Eric S. '21, Christian K. '21 & Giovanni T. '20 led the drone workshop in which attendees explored how their toys work and how they are built. Participants left this activity with a newfound knowledge about the objects they play with.

Conversations spilled over into “play breaks” that were carefully timed to allow for mingling over snacks, lunch and a round of interactive video gaming. Concurrently, a student speaker series streamed live talks from four participants. A video was produced by Browning boys with the help of technology faculty and may be viewed by clicking here.