Marissa Manley has been exposed to robotics and music since she was a child. At 4, she already experimented with Lego pieces — putting them together and with the use of coding and help from her father, she began to learn how to make them move.
At 8, she began playing the piano and in fourth grade she picked up the flute.
Last year, the 14-year-old created what she calls a “toy-bot.” She named it Marci – an acronym for Music and Robotics Combined and Integrated. Marissa takes Marci to different schools and shows children from grades kindergarten to second, her creation: a robot smaller than a shoe box, that moves at the sound of a flute.
On Friday, Marissa will be on the stage of the fifth annual TEDxYouth@Miami event, presenting herself, her ideas of the importance of coding and robotics and Marci: The Flute Bot.
“Coding incorporates almost everything now a days,” said the ninth-grade student who is also part of the Honors Gifted Program at Michael M. Krop Senior High School. “[I want to] raise awareness, for schools to bring in coding and the arts programs.”
TedxYouth stemmed from the Tedx program, which was curated by Ted — an annual conference that takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, and talks about topics within technology, entertainment and design. Tedx is a local, independently organized event in which attendees join together and share ideas in a Ted-style atmosphere.
TedxYouth gives people ages 6 to 25 a platform to speak about their projects, beliefs, creations and accomplishments. Through the Tedtalks — which include videos and live speakers — the group of young presenters and the audience, experience the atmosphere that takes place at an actual Ted conference.
Lisa Herbert has been the director of production for TedxYouth@Miami since it began, five years ago.
“A lot of these kids have these great ideas, but they don’t have anywhere to take them and share them, so we are going to put them in front of a South Florida audience, where hopefully educators will see them and then we’re going to shoot it out globally,” Herbert said.
For two months, the young presenters got together every Saturday to practice their speeches.
Feb. 20 was the last official rehearsal before Friday’s conference, which will be held 6:30 p.m. at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Students began presenting their pieces one-by-one, exhibiting their creations and speeches. Marissa opened the rehearsal, by bringing Marci into the circle and playing her flute.
Then came Zach Fotiadis, who created Zachipedia, a YouTube channel meant to help watchers understand history and important facts from the past.
Zoe Terry came last. The 9-year-old business owner has a doll company and wants everyone to see that anything is possible.
“Zoe’s Dolls started around my birthday and I asked people to donate dolls to us and make room around Christmas-time, but if anyone calls us, we give them a doll,” said the entrepreneur, who with the help of her mother, has successfully donated hundreds of dolls to underprivileged girls looking to give them hope and comfort. “[My message is that] your image is beautiful no matter what and nothing is impossible. The word itself says it — ‘I’m possible.’”
All participants of the Tedtalk submitted an application to TedxYouth@Miami. The TedxYouth committee selects the finalists.
Arvi Balseiro founded TedxYouth Miami. She believes it is the community’s responsibility to develop children and young adults and to motivate their ideas.
“[TedxYouth] creates a mindset of integrated thinking and doing,” said Balseiro, who is also the Head of School at The Cushman School in Miami. “The overall goal is to educate children and certainly adults who are knowledgeable, but who could then contribute back into society. [This] showcases how our children are doing that. “
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