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Omar Abreu


The Emoti-Con! Experience

Posted: 06/21/2012 9:16 am

This column features stories from students exploring the intersection of creativity and technology through Hive Learning Network programs in NYC and Chicago.

The room flooded with youth and adults from all over the city. Everyone was pumped to see all
the projects youth have been working on, and the awesome keynotes, from people all over the
tech industry. All of this only meant one thing -- it was time for Emoti-Con! 2012!

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  • Blogger Omar Abreu attended Emoti-Con! 2012.

  • Emoti-Con is a technology, digital media, and design conference, where youth from across the city get to not only show their projects, but also compete in various categories including Best Pitch, Most Potential for Social Impact, Most Entertaining, Most Innovative, and the grand prize, Crowd Favorite!

  • It was great to see all of these projects and keynotes. But this conference wasn't planned overnight. This whole event was planned by a group of teens called the A-Team. These teens, along with the Steering Committee (a group of adults from MOUSE, The New York Public Library, Global Kids and Parsons The New School for Design), planned the event over the course of a couple of months. It was an awesome experience being able to plan a conference. We made a lot of decisions, from who to invite as keynote speakers, to the swag given to all the attendees. But not only did we plan this conference, we helped facilitate it! This would be an experience I would never forget. Months of planning all led up to this awesome Saturday in June.

  • The day began with our first keynote speaker, Michael Edwards! He gave a presentation on breaking things, to make thing even more awesome!

  • Then came the design challenge. It's very simple. We gave them a problem, for example, people aren't curbing their dog on a sidewalk. Then, they had to design a solution. This definitely got the creative juices flowing in the room.

  • After all these awesome designs got presented, it was time for the next keynote speaker! Jeffrey Yohalem, writer of Assassins Creed! He spoke about writing for this popular game, viewing video games as an art, and that the best in video gaming is yet to come!

  • Then came the big moment, the Youth Expo! Youth showed their projects, films, and other digital media to people from all over the city. This was awesome, since not only did I get to view all the awesome projects, I got to present my project to others as well!

  • There were many projects this year, from youth in different schools, backgrounds, and age groups!

  • My group represented our project, The Dining Band! It's a wristband to help the blind and visually impaired with their dining experience. It was awesome to hear what people had to say about our projects!

  • While this was happening, secret judges were walking around, choosing the top four projects to present and compete for the five categories. It was a bit nerve-racking, there were so many projects, and everyone wanting to compete, it shook us up a bit. But there was no time to delay, because the next keynote speaker was up! Ayah Bdeir, creator of littleBits, talked about her experience as an engineer and inventor.

  • Then it was time to announce the four finalists. Everyone settled as a hush fell over the crowd. The host got up and announced the top four, and my group was picked! It was an awesome feeling knowing that the secret judges liked our project. The four finalists got up, and gave a four-minute pitch on their project, while the judges gave feedback.

  • This was my group as we presented The Dining Band!

  • Next up was T.A.P., a MOUSE project to help people with muscle deficiencies have a better experience in schools.

  • Then came "Stop and Frisk," a multimedia documentary on stop and frisk policies in New York from the WNYC Radio Rookies program. Last but not least, RUN, a space-themed game created on Scratch and Arduino from a teen at Institute of Play.

  • These projects were awesome, and it was a great experience presenting our projects and getting feedback from professionals. Next came the voting! The crowd votes on the projects, and while all four finalists win a category, only one wins crowd favorite! After the voting comes the next keynote speaker, this time it was Naveen Selvadurai, co-founder of Foursquare.

  • While this keynote is happening, the A-Team is counting up the ballots. By the time this keynote is over, we have counted the ballots and it is time to announce the winners. All the projects were awesome, and the groups were given their medals. But now the time has come to announce the winner of crowd favorite. And the winner was....The Dining Band! My group won! I couldn't be more excited! All the hard work over the year had finally paid off! We received our awards, and gave our final remarks. Then ended what would have just been another Saturday in June for many, but for a few, including myself, an experience we would never forget.