TEDxSydney – warmup event for TEDxNewtown?


I have a choice. I can write up the draft intro for our local TED Talks @ Newtown Kids Science Club or I can shower and change before attending the big TEDxSydney in half an hour.Or I can be optimistic and attempt both… probably badly. This is for an audience of primary school children and parents:

Tonight’s TED Talks are going to be about video games. We will have some great games for you to play and we also have some very interesting videos from TED that describe the development of video games and show something about their future evolution.

Dr Michael Harries is going to chair the discussion after the videos. As well as being a parent at the school, Michael is a futurist who knows a lot about computers, robots, artificial intelligence and iphones.
Our world is in a state of rapid change. Sometimes we’re so caught up in today that we can’t see tomorrow coming and we can’t remember our yesterdays.

What was it like when your parents were at school? Way back then, thirty odd years ago, only universities and big companies had computers. A computer took up an entire room and cost a lot of money. Lots of people shared each computer.

By the time your parents went to university, computers were getting smaller. Public computers were becoming popular and some of us even had our own personal computer. Not that we used much of their computational ability. They were largely fancy typewriters. And as well as writing assignments on them, we played games on them. Can you imagine Runescape without pictures? Just writing?

Stage 3 students, you have entered a whole new instance. When you go to high school next year, you will probably have your own computer at home or at school. And it will be connected to the internet. All of the information in the world is going online and you’re being encouraged to wiki or google it.

Stage 2 students, you can expect more. Your teachers will be using electronic whiteboards and you’re looking forward to having your own touch screen device. Soon you won’t be able to open up a book without trying to double click on it. You might laugh, but I’ve tried to eat with my mouse. I was so busy watching something on the screen that whenever I wanted to take a bite of my sandwich I moved my mouse. I started wondering if my mouse was broken because I wasn’t getting any food in my mouth. Duh.

But I’ve saved the best for last. Kindy and Stage 1 students. By the time you go to high school, you won’t be putting your computer in your pocket. You’ll be wearing it all the time. It might look like…. this (my hat) or maybe this (necklace/earrings/glasses). There will no longer be any difference between a computer, a phone, a game, or any other device. You will not be tied to a box, with a screen and a keyboard because you will be able to make one anywhere out of almost anything. Everything can be connected.

If you haven’t all used a Wii yet, then you will tonight. And imagine what is coming next. It’s going to look like Minority Report. It’s going to look like magic. When you go to high school and your teachers tell you to take off your hats because you are inside now. What they will be really saying is, it’s time to turn off your mobile phones, switch off your computers and stop playing games. But that’s ok because by the time you go to high school, your teachers will also have some pretty cool games for your classroom.

Tonight’s TED talk is about video games. We have videos from Brenda Laurel a virtual reality pioneer who has studied games and girls, David Perry who has designed famous games like Enter the Matrix and Patti Maes from MIT who is designing the sixth sense, your future computer. Or your new hat.

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