Tag Archives: science

TED talk of the day: Jacob Barnett says think, don’t learn

Jacob Barnett is a speaker, budding mathematician, and physicist; he is also 14 years old and was diagnosed with ADD and autism at a young age. After years of special education classes and failed attempts to “correct” Jacob’s inability to learn, his parents took him out of school and allowed him to think (not just learn). Jacob believes it was the freeing of his consciousness from the bonds of traditional education that enabled him to finally think and innovate. Further, he supposes that some of our greatest thinkers (Newton, Einstein) began to really think only when they put aside learning. Now, this may not work for most of us, who don’t have the innate genius and can thrive and think once the constructs of learning are in place. However, I am fascinated by the idea that learning happens not when we are forced to exist within the constraints of lesson plans and diagnoses but when we are freed from the bonds of learning and begin thinking and tapping into our creativity. As I work on the next post in my content development series, developing a presentation’s big idea, it’s good food for thought.

Under what conditions do you stop learning and start thinking? What gets your creativity moving?

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Melissa Marshall wants you to talk nerdy to her

Two of the biggest barriers to fresh speech are jargon and complex language. We often fall back on big words either because we want to appear “smart” (or we think our audience expects it), because they are a natural part of our vocabularies, or because they are a natural part of our discipline. However, according to Scott Schwertly of Ethos 3, a presentation design firm, what set Steve Jobs apart as a communicator was not his ability to use tech speak, but his ability to communicate at a level that was understandable and impacting to everyone (Schwertly, How to Be an Online Presentation God Webinar). TEDster Melissa Marshall, fellow communications teacher shares her experiences teaching engineers how to communicate their ideas to a general audience. These lessons are not only simple and applicable to science folks, but they are delivered in an engaging and dynamic way. Check out Marshall’s equation to incredible and meaningful interactions below:

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TED on Food: Jamie Oliver and Nathan Myhrvold

Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish: Teach every child about food

Although Jamie Oliver’s attempt to bring this wish to live through prime time television did not exactly succeed, his TED wish, and his energy and dynamism in conveying this wish–to teach every child about food in an effort to curb the now escalating numbers of obese youth in America–is nevertheless relevant and important. Watch Jamie bring the obesity problem to life through a wheelbarrow full of sugar among other things.

Nathan Myhrvold: Cooking as never seen before

I love to cook; if you know me or even just read this blog, you know I love to make delicious things and then force my treats (like the salted caramel Nutella brownies I’m making tonight) on my friend, family, and students. I owe much of my love of cooking to my father, who explained to me that cooking is chemistry, a series of processes and reactions between elements. So, Nathan Myhrvold’s fascination with cooking, in particular the modernist culinary movement, is right up my alley. His book Modernist Cuisine takes foodies through a journey into the science and beauty of the cooking process.  I must have a copy of this book immediately!
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Watch this Talk: John Bohannon’s Modest Proposal

The over use and abuse of Power Point has caused this to be the reaction most of us have to attending a meeting, “workshop”, or lecture.

It’s also caused a sort of creative Renaissance in the public speaking world, a new attention to design, strong development, and engaging delivery.

But, what if Power Point isn’t the best way to convey information, what if, as John Bohannon channeling Swiftian wit claims “bad Power Points are a serious threat to the global economy”? How serious? How’s 250 million dollars per day?

How does Bohannon figure this? By ingeniously calculating the number of work hours wasted on useless or poorly designed Power Points (there are 30 million new presentations created every day). But, the problem is deeper than that, Bohannon explains. Power Point creates “the illusion of understanding.” Power Point has been used as a distraction, as a false crutch for the presenter, as a way to lull the audience into sheer and utter complacency. For, what is Power Point about other than complacency? This is not a dig on Power Point on my part; I use both Keynote and Power Point regularly. However, the death by Power Point approach to creating slides is costly, and a waste of time and energy. Bohannon says, don’t cut the arts, use artists, specifically dancers, to convey information rather than Power Point.

He doesn’t just tell us that dance can help us process complex information more easily, he shows us by using dance throughout his speech. Dancers from the Black Label Movement act out the processes and beautifully executed ideas Bohannon. You can’t help but pay attention, even if the dance distracts you a bit from the speaker. It’s an ingenious and kinetic approach to presenting complex information. As one who tends to dance to match my mood during class, I’m all for a bit of kinetic reinforcement. What do you think?

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