A TEDx Talk for Inspiration and Recognition of… STEAM Education in Gen Z!
This fall, Nemesis 2590 was honored with an invitation to present a TEDx talk at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, discussing their success in getting students involved in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). The event was attended by about 150 eager listeners and dozens of other speakers, from scientists to soldiers. Between presentations, musical entertainers performed for the crowd.
The TED program (Technology, Engineering, and Design) is a world-renowned nonprofit dedicated to spreading new ideas throughout the global community. This TEDx event was independently organized by a hardworking team at led by Colonel Cynthia Wong at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Nemesis received an invitation in late August and quickly assembled a team of experienced members to prepare our presentation. They immediately recognized the significance of the opportunity. The topic was simple, and seemingly straightforward: “How does Nemesis inspire Generation Z to get involved in STEAM?” Generation Z, today’s young adults, have a uniquely intimate connection to technology. Gen Z children were the first to be born in the digital age. As such, they have grown used to immediate gratification, unceasing “connection” to the outside world, and ease of access to the internet.
In the earliest stages of development, the question of inspiration seemed straightforward, but the team soon ran into some unexpected challenges. What began as a simple answer drifted off topic as the writers tried to capture the spirit of our team-- the camaraderie and friendship that draws so many interested students into the RHS Tech Lab. Inspiration is an abstract concept.
With the help of their advisors, the writers gradually realized why Nemesis is inspiring: Team 2590 caters to the needs of today’s teens because they are today’s teens. For an impressionable young man or woman, who is more relatable than a student their own age? When a teenager sees their contemporaries doing something they could only dream of, inspiration is inevitable. With this in mind, the writers took to the drawing board one last time. The final draft not only captured the spirit of the team, but also helped the writers truly understand and appreciate the value of their work, and the investment of their mentors and advisors. It became a twofold learning experience; an external study of Generation Z, and an internal study of the workings of Nemesis.
On Tuesday, October 24, the four writers-- and soon to be presenters--, Emily Marsch, Amanda Quon, Nick Anderson, and Mariko McMurtry, were dressed to impress. That morning, they left school early with mentors Joy Wolfe and Karen Young, and a small robot drive team (Charlie D'Amico, James Aikins, Niratjot Grewal, and Harsha Pavuluri). Upon arrival at the base, they squeezed in a brief rehearsal before the event began. Ever calm and collected, time seemed to fly by as Emily, Amanda, Nick, and Mariko waited backstage, silently rehearsing the speech in their heads. Suddenly, one of the event coordinators leaned around the doorway and urgently whispered, “You’re up!” The walk out to the stage seemed surreal; the robot crew moved mechanically as they looked out at the audience, taking everything in. Time seemed to stop for a moment, and then the speakers began.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are Amanda, Emily, and Nick of the Robbinsville High School FIRST Robotics team, Nemesis. Now, if we asked you to think of a robot, you might imagine one of these…”
Emily began with a lighthearted introduction, bringing the audience members back to their childhood as she talked about the rift-- of culture and time-- that separates Generation Z from Gen X and Gen Y. The audience was attentive, polite, and quick to laugh at jokes, helping the presenters relax as they spoke. Time, which seemed to slow before, passed in leaps and bounds as the speakers transitioned seamlessly from one point to another. As the speakers lined up with Bellerophon to take a bow, the audience erupted into cheers and applause. Following their presentation, the team fielded questions and networked with fellow speakers and audience members, many of whom were impressed by team and the FIRST program as a whole. Some of the younger audience members had competed in FIRST when they were in high school; they were amazed to see how the program has grown.
Nemesis would like to thank Colonel Cynthia Wong of the United States Air Force, Mr. Mangano of NAVAIR, and all those who supported us at TEDx: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. We sincerely appreciate everything you did for us, and it was a pleasure working with you!
Below is a link to Navair's article about the event: