Aarthi Ravikumar gives a TED Talk  on “The Misconceptions of Art” during the TEDx event  May 4 in the North Farmington High School auditorium.

Aarthi Ravikumar gives a TED Talk on “The Misconceptions of Art” during the TEDx event May 4 in the North Farmington High School auditorium.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

TED Talks allow community to flourish together

By: Charity Meier | Farmington Press | Published May 21, 2023


FARMINGTON — One hundred members of the Farmington Public Schools community gathered at North Farmington High School May 4 for a series of nine TED Talks. The TED Talks were presented by students, parents and staff at the Farmington STEAM Academy as part of the second annual TEDx event.

“TED Talks are a form of art,” stated Aiden Kobylarz, 13, co-emcee of the event. “You know how you write something that you feel really connected to? Like people express their emotions through speaking to other people.”

TEDx is an independently organized TED Talk event. Organizers must acquire a free license to host a TEDx event, and follow a specific format and guidelines as dictated by the TED organization, which stands for Technology Education and Design. According to TED.com, more than 3,000 TEDx events are now held annually.

All TEDx events have a theme. This year, the school chose the theme “flourish.”

Each of the TED talks embraced the idea of growth in some way or another. Cooper Franks, who teaches seventh grade English and History at the Farmington STEAM Academy and is responsible for bringing the program to the school, said they try to have a vast variety of topics for the event that can be encapsulated by the theme. This year’s talks included a presentation by Nicolette Franack on “finding your Ironman.” Alana Daniel spoke on “the power of authenticity.” Alexandria Thomas spoke about  “active allyship” and challenges that made her a better person. Sandra Zori spoke about addressing difficult topics with children. Aarthi Ravikumar spoke on “The misconceptions of art.”  Sonja Brannon spoke  on immunosuppression. Niha Prabhu spoke about biculturalism. Jon Thomas spoke about the loss of his daughter Lauren. David Edwards talked about why kids should play sports.

“TED Talks are a good thing because it allows people to express themselves to a, usually, large community, and it results in ideas being shared and passed so that everybody knows about them,” said SrihanAravabhumi, 13, who co-emceed the event.

Franks said the goal of the event was to bring people together to have “important conversations” about things that are happening in the community and other communities. According to Franks, the 45-minute intermission is the most important part of the event, as it brings people together over a meal.

“I’ve listened to people who have never met just exchanging ideas, having conversations that they normally wouldn’t have. So bringing everyone together as a community with that is just a good opportunity,” said Franks.

The event was catered by Chives Kitchen, 33043 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, and featured nachos, with a vast array of toppings, and cookies and other sweet treats, along with chai and water.

Franks brought TEDx to Farmington after experiencing the benefits of the program while teaching abroad in both the Dominican Republic and hosting an event in Albania. He said he wanted to give kids at the STEAM academy an opportunity to help organize an event  and to share their ideas.

“When we first started doing them — we just valued TED Talks,” Franks said. “It’s a good way to get people together to talk about things, to discuss community issues, to highlight good thinkers in our community and bring that to light, and I wanted to bring that to Farmington.”

Franks said the speakers actually apply to present a TED Talk and then addition for the event. This year, he said, there were 20 applicants, 12 of whom were asked to audition with a rough outline of their talk, and nine people were selected to present during the event.

“It’s getting better every year. I learned a lot from the first year, and I’ve learned a lot from the second year,” he said. “Anybody — your neighbor, your teacher, your student — has ideas, and you should listen to them.”

Franks said he tries to partner with local companies and organizations as a way to bring the community together. This year he has worked with TV10 and Chive Kitchen.

For more information about TEDx, visit www.ted.com.