Lifestyle

Redmond 12-year-old wows movers and shakers at TED conference

Redmond 12-year-old Adora Svitak was the youngest speaker at the Feb. 9-13 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Long Beach, Calif. She spoke about how and why adults should learn from kids, on the same stage that featured film maker James Cameron and renowned author Sir Ken Robinson.   - Photo by James Duncan Davidson for TED
Redmond 12-year-old Adora Svitak was the youngest speaker at the Feb. 9-13 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Long Beach, Calif. She spoke about how and why adults should learn from kids, on the same stage that featured film maker James Cameron and renowned author Sir Ken Robinson.
— image credit: Photo by James Duncan Davidson for TED

A 12-year-old Redmond girl taught a thing or two to movers and shakers from the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design at last weekend's TED conference in Long Beach, Calif.

From Apple's Steve Wozniak and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, to former Vice President Al Gore, "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening and movie star Will Smith, "everywhere you turned, there were people you saw on TV," marveled Adora Svitak, whose TED speech described how and why adults should learn from kids.

This wasn't Svitak's first brush with fame. She's been interviewed by Oprah, Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer, on topics such as her book "Flying Fingers" and her educational programs available through Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration.

Most weekday mornings, from a video studio in her home on Education Hill, Svitak interacts, long-distance, with other children and adults on topics ranging from language arts to history and social studies, which she also studies — at her own pace — through Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA).

In fact, when the Redmond Reporter last visited with her, Svitak, who was then 10 years old, had just delivered a lecture to education majors from Ball State University, University of New Mexico, University of Arizona and Simon Frasier University.

What were her words of wisdom at TED, from a stage that she shared with the likes of film maker James Cameron and renowned author Sir Ken Robinson?

Excerpts included, "What is childish? Age has nothing to do with irrational behavior! But children do still dream, which is the baseline for pushing the boundaries of the impossible. Children don't think of limitations, they think of good ideas. Great potential! Still children are restricted by adults ... with no say in the world. ... You must lend an ear today, because we are the leaders of tomorrow."

Adora's speech at TED drew a standing ovation, said her mom Joyce Svitak.

And TED curator Chris Anderson remarked, "Adora's talk was a home run. Everyone (was) wowed by her eloquence, intelligence and humor. We can't wait to post the talk. It'll be a big hit online. What an amazing young woman she is."

Adora said her next goals are to "go to more conferences and have a large impact and make a difference."

Besides meeting and learning from other thinkers and doers at TED, she added, with a mischievous laugh, that she loved "the huge abundance of free food."

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