Orson Scott Card, others speak at TEDxUSU event

Noelle Pikus-Pace shows her silver medal to the audience at USU's third-annual TEDx event.

LOGAN – Seventeen presenters addressed a sold-out Caine Performance Hall and shared things they believe are “ideas worth spreading.” It was all part of the third annual TEDxUSU event. The ideas were shared in-person to the hundreds in attendance, but through social media and the internet they will be shared to much more.

A major purpose of the TEDx event is to utilize social media to spread the ideas shared to as many people as possible. During the presentations those in attendance were encouraged to get on their smart phones and tweet and share what was being said. Each presentation will eventually be made available by video online. The presentations from last year’s TEDxUSU event have been downloaded over 250,000 times.

The presenters included Orson Scott Card, author of “Ender’s Game” and many other novels, Olympic silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace, several USU professors and singer-songwriters Dawn and Hawkes from the NBC television program, “The Voice”.

The theme of this year’s event was “Friction.” Pikus-Pace told the story of how friction slowed her down and cost her an Olympic medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Before her skeleton run, she hadn’t tucked her shoelaces into her shoes before sliding down the mile-long course. The shoelace dragged on the ice causing just enough friction to slow her down slightly. Pikus-Pace believed it was enough to cost her the medal. She missed third place by one-tenth of a second. She also spoke of a pregnancy where she lost her baby to a miscarriage. It was something she said was very hard on her and her family. She pointed out that friction in cases like both of these can be used as traction to move forward.

“Our lives are filled with friction,” Pikus-Pace said in her presentation. “Whether in relationships, at home, at school, at work, we have physical friction, emotional and mental friction. But it is those experiences, it is the challenges that you face that shapes us and molds us into who we can become. Friction allows us to go beyond our limits and expectations of ourselves to see who we really are and what our potential truly is.”

Card was the final speaker at the event and discussed keeping children excited in education. He shared experiences his children had in school where homework and discouraging creativity made them lose interest in reading and learning.

“Every study of homework, and I mean every study when properly controlled and interpreted, reveals that homework makes no difference whatsoever to academic performance,” Card said. “But it makes a huge difference to the freedom of children.”

Card said children need respect for their choices and a chance to fail.

“To foster creativity you create that environment where courage is not punished, where others have predefined their own way to the goal,” he said. “Where toys are tools and tools are toys, and where the goal is to make good things, good systems for other people.”

Other presentations included a performance by Dawn and Hawkes, a speech by USU undergraduate Nicole Martineau about her experiences trying to incorporate drama in teaching a high school biology class and a challenge by USU assistant professor Jason Quinn to properly inflate your car tires every month. He said that 2 billion gallons of fuel are wasted annually in the U.S. with under-inflated tires.

In several weeks, all talks will be posted to the TEDx YouTube channel.

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