The “TED Talks” power speeches are becoming increasingly popular. The short talks cover a variety of topics, from art to science and global issues. There are TED conferences and independently run TEDx events across the country.
Last year, Gulliver Prep senior Noah Jacobs made it his goal to organize a TEDx event at the school. To reach his goal, he assembled a team of 20 people.
“We put together an event to be in the student union. It took us six months of planning the event before applying,” he says. “The administration gave us the okay and agreed to give us a venue.”
The student-driven event took place April 10 with a theme of “On the Edge.” There were nine speakers, including a top official from Burger King, a cancer survivor and an 18-year-old commercial pilot. The plan calls for another event during the current school year and it will again be student driven.
“For this year’s event, we don’t know if we are going for TEDxPinecrest or TEDxCoral Gables,” Jacobs says. “We might drop the youth and go for a bigger stable of adult mentors.”
Because they are early in the planning stages, the theme is still under discussion. Jacobs says they are waiting to hear from Fairchild Tropical Garden about hosting the TED Talks. He says TED Talks have fascinated him since he saw his first one in eighth grade. “I remember my teacher showed us a TED Talk,” he says.
“I was so inspired.” He began to watch them at home and had a compulsive urge to share the videos with his friends. That made the idea to put on a TED event a natural.
He became serious about doing it during his sophomore year. “It’s one of the most rewarding experiences in learning how to put together a theme,” he says.
“It’s surreal to see a whole year of work go away in three hours.”
One of the things that compelled him to organize the event was the stories behind the people who spoke.
In addition to being a TED Talks guru, Jacobs is co-president of Model UN at Gulliver.
“We go to a lot of conferences for that,” he says. “What I’m trying to do is lower the cost. We found we could raise more money if we transitioned the club into a program. If it’s a club, we are limited to the traditional ways of fundraising.
Jacobs is accomplished outside of school as well. In August he earned his private pilot’s license for single-engine aircraft.
“You must have 40 hours of flying, most of it solo time,” he says. “I have a little more than 60 hours.”
Jacobs says it was his father who stimulated him to start flying. He says his father wanted to be a pilot, but could not because of vision problems, and he became a doctor instead.
Jacobs has also earned scuba certification through the rescue diver rank. The only higher certification is professional trainer. He is a member of Gulliver’s scuba club, which works on coral reef restoration on many of its group ocean dives.
“If you are going to go scuba diving, why not do something good at the same time,” he says. Jacobs applied for early decision to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. If he is accepted, he says he will withdraw his applications to the other colleges, a list that includes UC Berkley, Duke, Columbia, the University of Michigan, MIT and Harvard.
Jacobs says he wants to study business and eventually work in economics, though he also has a keen interest in physics.
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld