x = independently organized TED event

Theme: The Spark!

This event occurred on
November 16, 2013
11:00am - 2:45pm EST
(UTC -5hrs)
New York, NY
United States

"The Spark!" is the theme for this year's TEDxYouth@TheSchool event and for the TEDxYouthDay community. Our speakers will hopefully spark our audience of students to affect positive change in the world, both locally and globally.

The School at Columbia University
556 West 110th Street
New York, NY, 10025
United States
Event type:
Youth (What is this?)
See more ­T­E­Dx­Youth@­The­School events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Aki Watanabe

Aki Watanabe is a dinosaur and crocodile paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History. Growing up in Fukushima Prefecture of Japan and Michigan, his fascination with the natural world has taken him around the globe from cold specimen-filled rooms of museums to the fiery expanse of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Using cutting-edge scanning technology, his research aims to clarify how the brain evolved from dinosaurs to their living descendants — birds. In addition to describing new dinosaur fossils, Aki has also looked at growth and development in alligators and crocodiles. Beyond scientific research, Aki is focused on developing innovative, personal, and accessible ways to experience science, including the use of digital models, 3-D printers, and more recently, Google Glass. Aki also enjoys running, playing tennis, programming, composing, and playing the violin. For more information, visit On Twitter: @akiopteryx

Caroline Patenode

Caroline Patenode is a molecular biologist at Columbia University in New York. As a fourth-year PhD candidate, Caroline spends most of her time playing with her favorite model organism, baker’s yeast. She is particularly interested in how the components of the cell can be rearranged to create new functions and products. Caroline’s research works to meet the growing need for new antibiotics, materials, and energy sources by turning yeast cells into microscopic factories for novel molecules. In addition to her research, Caroline is co-president of Women in Science at Columbia (WISC), a post-bachelor’s organization devoted to supporting and connecting women and other minorities early in their STEM careers via networking opportunities, workshops, mentorship, and community outreach.

Leo Liebeskind

Leo Liebeskind is a twenty-year-old up-and-coming singer-songwriter from New York City. A classically trained musician, Leo is a multi-instrumentalist, proficient at guitar, piano, harmonica, and bass, and has been writing and singing original music since he was twelve. Leo has played numerous shows at venues around the NYC area, including the Living Room, the National Underground, and the Bitter End. He has recorded several solo albums on his own, and is now working on recording Booga Basement Records, based in Bloomfield, NJ. In 2012, Leo started The Tour on Poverty, a project designed to help those in need through music. Together with musical partner, Jordan Golding, and tour manager, Andrew Follmann, Leo set out on the road in January of 2013. At each stop the three would make, they would donate all their earnings from the show to some kind of community organization in the city they were playing. In total, the first leg of The Tour on Poverty was able raise nearly $1300 for community organizations in 10 cities from Kentucky to California. Currently, Leo is working on organizing part 2 of The Tour on Poverty, set to start in January 2014 and extend on into May. For more information on Leo Liebeskind or The Tour on Poverty, please visit their pages at and To check out Leo’s music please visit

Stephen Gilman

Stephen Gilman is the founder of MakerState, an award-winning national, hands-on science & engineering mastery makerspace for kids program. He is the founder of the Carnegie Learning Center, a micro-schools incubator, and founding teacher and dean of Bronx Expeditionary Learning High School (now Bronx Collegiate), a public school grounded in Outward Bound experiential learning. His proposal for an experiential, badges and mastery-based school/learning model, “Student Union,” was a finalist in the international Mozilla and MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media & Learning Competition. Stephen was recently named to the Professional Journal Committee of the Association of Teacher Educators. He is the president and founding board of UlsterCorps, a volunteer network in New York. He is the author of Nightshade, an historical thriller set in 1702 about a conspiracy to take over the Atlantic slave trade. Stephen enjoys pottery, beekeeping, geocaching, fiction writing, social entrepreneurism, making and playing games, and creativity of all kinds. He and his seven year old Ben started MakerState together to bring their love of making and learning new things to kids everywhere. On Twitter: @StephenGilman and @MakerState

Naomi Goldberg Haas

Naomi Goldberg Haas is a master teacher, choreographer, and the founding artistic director of Dances For A Variable Population (DVP), a multigenerational dance company that brings dance to the community and brings the community into the concert hall. Through fun, lively, and beautifully executed choreography, DVP makes inclusive dance that engages communities as participants and audience members. DVP specializes in making dance accessible to a broad spectrum of people – including low-income urban seniors and differently-abled individuals – who would otherwise have little connection or opportunity to participate in dance. Since 2005 with DVP, Ms. Goldberg Haas has choreographed and produced major site-related dance performances at venues throughout New York City: on the High Line, in Times Square, in Washington Square Park, on Governors Island, and in the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. Partners have included the River to River Festival, the NYC Parks Department, and the Times Square Alliance. Goldberg Haas’s choreography for DVP has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow, the Joyce SoHo, La Mama and Movement Research for Judson Church among others. Since 2008, the company has partnered with 24 NYC senior centers and have served nearly 2,000 seniors with engaging dance education programming. Ms. Goldberg Haas has also worked in theatre, opera and film. Highlights include collaborations with The Klezmatics, composer Michael Nyman, Disney Animation the NY Shakespeare Festival/The Public, Manhattan Theater Club, the McCarter Theater, the Mark Taper Forum, playwright Tony Kushner, director Mel Shapiro and Classic Stage Company’s Artistic Director Brian Kulick. Recent theatrical collaborations include choreography and associate direction for the Czech American Marionette Theater’s production of Golem for La Mama’s 50th Anniversary. Her work with the Silesian Dance Theater and persons with disabilities was presented in 2009 and 2010 at the International Contemporary Dance Festival in Poland and in 2011 at Chutzpah Festival in Vancouver, B.C. She formerly danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet and holds an MFA from Tisch Dance at NYU. She has taught dance at Cal State, Long Beach and Loyola Marymount University in the 90’s and currently teaches at NYU, the Harkness Dance Center at the 92Y and in DVP’s programs.

YingYing Shang

YingYing Shang is 17-year-old freshman at Harvard and an advocate for children’s and human rights. She served as Teen Advisor to the United Nations Foundation campaign Girl Up, a blogger for the Huffington Post, and Junior Delegate to the national gender equality campaign Vision 2020: Equality in Sight. In addition, YingYing is a Girl Scout Gold Awardee, and has been honored by Philadelphia City Council as part of the City of Philadelphia’s Next Generation of Women’s Leadership. YingYing has spoken on Nickelodeon’s Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, National Conference on Media Reform, and TEDxRedmond. YingYing has served on the youth advisory boards of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Do Something, World Vision Youth, and American Association of University Women. On Twitter: @yingyingsmiles

Hope Dworkin

Hope Dworkin is a 4th grader at The School at Columbia University. Last year, she started The New Roar Times, a student-run digital newspaper at my school. This is Hope’s second year as Editor-in-Chief, and she is proud to have 38 reporters and editors on staff! In her free time, Hope loves to read and write. She enjoys modern art and sees it with her family every weekend.On Twitter: @newroartimes On Twitter: @NewRoarTimes

Four Girls For Families

Four Girls For Families is led by Maddie Joinnidis, Rae Specht, Emmy Specht, and Clara Walker. They are four girls ages 10 - 14 years old (two sisters and two best friends). They traveled to Cambodia and were very upset by the extreme poverty. Together, they vowed to find a way to help. They formed their charity, Four Girls for Families, began to do research, and found that 75% of deaths in Cambodia are caused by unfiltrated drinking water. 90% of those people who die are under five-years old. The girls realized that for $12.00, they could help prevent this by supplying a water filtration system to families in Cambodia. This is now their mission. For a modest amount of money in America, an enormous amount of help can be provided to others. The girls make greeting cards, t-shirts, journals, and jewelry to sell. 100% of the money raised goes to buy water filters in Cambodia. The girls plan to travel back to Cambodia in February 2014 to hand deliver the filters to families in rural areas. On Twitter: @FourGirlsForFam

Shannon Daniels

Shannon Daniels is a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City who loves exploring the ways in which art and writing can change the world. She is grateful for having had the opportunity to speak at TEDxStuyvesant H.S. this past spring and for being invited to speak at TEDxYouth@TheSchool this fall. Along with speaking at TEDx events, she leads her school’s literary magazine as Co-Editor-in-Chief. She is also a Youth Board member of the organization Girls Write Now, in which she is fortunate to have had the mentorship of professional women writers and be involved in a community of fellow teen girl writers. Additionally, she was selected to attend the PEN American Center’s Teen Writing Institute for two summers, where she sharpened her poetry and creative non-fiction. To unwind on weekends, she loves to listen to and perform spoken word poetry with friends at venues such as the Bowery Poetry Club and the Nuyorican Poet’s Café. When she’s not furiously scribbling in her notebook or hogging the microphone, she practices her Cantonese and Spanish, takes her golden retriever to the park, and sings karaoke.

Inbar Pe'er

Inbar Pe'er is an eighth grader at the School at Columbia University in New York City. She was born in Israel but when she was three years old her family moved to the U.S.A. She has gone to the School at Columbia University since the first grade and avidly participates in many of the schools extra-curriculars. She iscurrently President of the Student Council and has been on the student council for the past three years. She loves the Harry Potter series and enjoys playing Lacrosse. She is passionate about debate and is a member of her school's debate team. She is also passionate about contributing to the fight against cancer. After going with her mom, Dana Pe'er, who is a professor at Columbia University, to an event of Stand Up to Cancer she was inspired to take action. Last year she dedicated a research project to testing if the shape of the environment that cancer cells grew in affected the way that they grew.

Claire Keenan-Kurgan

Claire Keenan-Kurgan is an eighth grader at The School at Columbia University. She is the Vice-President of the student government. Last year, Claire was the winner of the Young Naturalist Award, where she received a prize for her essay on the urban habitats of birds in Central Park. She also plays on a soccer team year-round. Claire has lived in New York City her whole life and loves it there. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, playing the trumpet, going around the city with her friends, and teaching herself the piano.

Lilibeth Perez

Lilibeth Perez is a 17 year old student at Harlem Village Academy High School. She has grown up in New York City her whole life, but most of her family is from the Dominican Republic. With ScriptEd, Lilibeth learned how to code in javascript, ruby, and python, and participated in a summer internship at Contently. At the ScriptEd Hackathon, her team won the award for Best Use of Meme. When she is not programming, Lilibeth loves making art and writing short fiction stories. She plans to study computer science in college.

Anna Mehlman

Anna Mehlman in an eighth grader at The School at Columbia University, and she has always loved dance. Ever since she was little, all she would do was dance. She danced everywhere she went. Dance allows Anna to express her feelings in a unique way to people and to herself. It shows her how to connect with the world. Connecting to the world in dance means using other curricula inside of movement. Using energy, force, space, and time helps create dances. Being put into advanced classes has taught Anna what is coming up in life, and how to achieve it with movement. Each time she watches people or a company dance, Anna know that dance will always be there for her, even in times of trouble.

Azriel Fernandez

Azriel Fernandez is a sixth grader at The School at Columbia University. He has always been passionate about design. He is fascinated by the way fashion can transform the way you see and are seen by the world. Azriel describes his style as “Old School” and is inspired by risk takers and out-of-the-box thinkers like filmmaker Tim Burton and performer Lady Gaga. Azriel learned to sew when he was just five years old by watching his mother. He uses dolls to model his fashion and costuming creations, is fascinated by film and wants to pursue a career in costume, set and make-up design. Azriel believes that inspiration is everywhere, you just have to open your eyes to it.

Organizing team


New York, NY, United States
  • Jazmin Sherwood
  • Karen Blumberg