14 things we learned at TEDxYouth Sydney 2017

TEDx is a forum that is all about “Ideas worth spreading.” In 2017 TEDxYouth Sydney was launched as its own unique event and showcased the talents of many young people. We put together the top 14 things we learned at TEDxYouth Sydney:

1. Sixteen year old inventor Macinley Butson is an inspirational young woman. She has invented a smart armour for use by breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. It is made with copper and has been shown to reduce radiation by up to 80% to the contralateral (or non-cancerous) breast and will reduce the likelihood of patients developing a secondary cancer later on. She has also created a solar panel that tracks the sun’s movements using a water drip that she dubs “The solar system.” Her advice is to try different things, to keep going and that anyone can find solutions to global problems. You go girl!
2. UTS researcher Dr Nural Cokcetin described the invisible war we will be facing against superbugs. These are normal bugs that have evolved and it is estimated to result in a death toll of 10 million people per year by 2050 because these bugs are resistant to antibiotics and don’t discriminate against a person’s age, race, etc. Dr Cokcetin’s research is about honey as a possible treatment because the bacteria haven’t learned a resistance to it and Manuka honey is a medical grade variety that could be the key.
3. Researcher and farmer, Anika Molesworth and aeronautical engineer, Anastasia Volkova described sustainable farming practices and how farmers will be needing to feed more hungry mouths and achieve more with less in the decades to come. Volkova’s work is fascinating and involves using drones to capture infra-red images of crops. This can show where fertiliser is needed, can reduce fertiliser waste and prevent the pollution of soils and water. It can also reveal damage to crops before it’s visible to the human eye.
4. Writer and director, Chris Leben gave a hilarious talk about how you turn a respected newsreader into a comedy star. He was talking about the adorable, Lee Lin Chin who also appeared. Leben’s advice was to defy expectations, create comedy from the truth (through exaggerating real-life traits) and to create a high-status character who puts everyone down. This is how we’ve come to know Chin as the beer-loving, fashionista who picks up hotties at backpacker hostels (we’re not making this up) because she’s depleted Australia’s supply of good men.
5. Sex worker and activist, Tilly Lawless gave a raw talk about the realities of sex work and the stigma she faces from different people. She reminded us that female sex workers are often from society’s most marginalised groups; and are people that have to support families and loved ones and who often have limited opportunities to do other work. Lawless’ advice is to watch your language and assumptions, listen to sex workers and include them in national health initiatives. She also says we should donate to sex worker support groups and take a stand when sex workers are being abused online because sex workers are ultimately deserving of rights because they’re human too.
6. You show your support to spoken word poetry by clicking, not applauding. Bilal Hafda delivered a heartfelt piece about his Dad while Iman Etri was incredibly profound in her poetry. She said things like, “I am an open flame, but fire can be extinguished” and “I am a planner who can’t plan ahead because you can’t plan for the unexpected.” Nice.
7. Mathematician Ivan Zelich believes that maths should be taught as a journey in schools. He said that students will gain more from learning how to write theorems rather than rote learning how to solve the same problem 50 times. He also said that it’s okay to fail because “being wrong has given me a better understanding of maths as a whole.”
8. There were also two in-depth conversations with speakers from TEDx Sydney 2017. Dr Scott Griffiths described muscle dysmorphia, an eating disorder affecting young men who have an unhealthy obsession with going to the gym. Lawyer Mariam Veiszadeh described bias and discrimination and how important it is for company boards to have a diverse range of people on them in order to allow for more innovation and variety of thought.
9. Joe Carbone is the head instructor at Dauntless Movement Crew (DMC) a stunt team that specialise in parkour training. He talked about the importance of having dedication, passion and focus and learning about the body and its limits. By training kids to stay active, DMC has helped them become strong, independent and focused.
10. Afterpay CEO and entrepreneur, Nick Molnar dispelled the prevailing myths related to the millennial generation. He proved that millennials have great strengths like perseverance and loyalty (where it’s due) and that the biggest dilemma facing this age group is the legacy they want to leave on this world.
11. Artist Louise Zhang taught us that to understand a culture’s “monsters” (i.e. from horror films and other media) we can understand a culture’s anxieties. We also learned that films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Blob were inspired by real stories and phenomenon.
12. Martial artist and actor, Maria Tran talked about how she learned to be strong. In marital arts she learned that “To increase safety you move towards the conflict and engage your opponent.” These days she is taking a stance against sexism in martial arts films and this culminated in her working with her hero, Jackie Chan.
13. Futurist, Grace Turtle described how mimes have been used to deter jay walkers. She also described about the future: a world where a third of jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence and that public transport will consist of autonomous vehicles. She said that “We have a moral obligation to question the futures that are handed to us.”
14. TEDX isn’t just about speeches. The musical talent was superb from Sam McMahon’s John Butler-esque guitar work to Titus Grenyer’s accomplished organ playing there was a lot to celebrate. Emily Wurramara performed some deadly fabulous songs about country and Alice Ivy blended a kaleidoscope of different dance-worthy beats.

TEDxYouth Sydney was held at Sydney Town Hall on September 6.