Chieftain Press Attends TEDx Amherst Conference

This past Sunday, April 7,  the Chieftain Press attended the TEDx Amherst conference at UMass Amherst to get a look at what the popular educational video lectures are like live. The conference included four workshops and diverse talks from eleven speakers and lasted for eight hours. Run by a crew of UMASS students, the theme was Solve for Wh(y). All of the talks will be available online from TEDx in about a month.

The first four talks were part of a series called “y=change.” This speaker set was opened by Bob Lowry with a talk on active listening and the dangers of interruption. He encouraged listeners to focus on what others say, rather than think immediately of a response.

Josh Silver followed Lowry with a presentation on his foundation Represent Us, a nonpartisan political affiliation intent on ending corruption and misrepresentation to bring America back to a full democracy.

Khofi-Charu Nat Turner gave a presentation on his work in New Jersey public schools to introduce yoga and dynamic mindfulness, practices which he claims can be executed daily to decrease stress and depression, especially in response to trauma, hate crimes, and poverty.

UMASS sophomore Kelsey Nass then closed “y=change” with the story of her rape, how the UMASS community reacted, and how society needs to change its views on rape.

The second series, “y=discover,” consisted of three talks. Jim Flynn opened the series with a long presentation on individual sovereignty in the internet age, or an individual’s right to privacy, and his work with the Kuwa Foundation, a nonprofit organization to help raise people around the world out of poverty.

Flynn was followed by Duncan Irschick, a biology professor who pioneered digital photography technology to make 3D computerized, interactive graphics of animals for education and conservation awareness.

“y=discover” closed with Harith Khawaja, a senior at Amherst College who presented his story of road risks and the future of self-driving cars.

The final four talks formed the last series, “y=perspective.” These were opened by Livia Rizzo, a teacher for the Harvard Medscience program, which uses a very realistic dummy to engage high school students in medical science with hands-on case studies. She spoke of the need for teachers to inspire and offer students engaging experiences, rather than just lecturing.

Rizzo was followed by Michael Sundel, a hydroponics pioneer who spoke of his app development work on an upcoming app called Ophanim. His humorous talk focused on time management and effective practices of productivity.

Dr. Alice Flaherty followed Sundel with her story of a mental disorder known as hypergraphia: the uncontrollable, abnormal need to write. She spoke of what endangers creativity and how to merge fears into curiosity to become successful in creative endeavors.

The final speaker of the conference was retired Smith mathematics professor Dr. Jim Henle, who asserted that math is art, genius is not inherent, and any subject can be loved if the student gets to choose how to approach it.