Sonoma County Office of Education

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Sir Ken Robinson; student innovators inspire at ieSonoma 2017

06/12/2017 -

An internationally recognized authority in creativity and innovation in education and business, Sir Ken Robinson delivered an empowering keynote address at ieSonoma 2017 that urged educators to tap into students' natural love of learning and find as many ways as they can to foster creativity. He spoke to a nearly sold-out crowd of around 700 on Monday, June 12. Robinson was the keynote speaker at the inaugural ieSonoma event in 2013, and he returned to commemorate ieSonoma's 5th anniversary. In addition to Robinson’s presentation, ieSonoma featured local student innovators, who shared their powerful stories in a series of short talks. Their stories were meant to inspire educators to create more opportunities for students to pursue their own unique interests.

ieSonoma 2017 was the fifth annual collaboration between the Sonoma County Office of Education, Sonoma State University, and Sonoma Country Day School. The event is meant to foster innovation in Sonoma County schools. For the past four years, the event has entertained and energized local educators and community members with world-renowned speakers like Benjamin Zander, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, Dr. Sugata Mitra, Dan Pallotta, Emily Pilloton, and filmmaker Nirvan Mullick.

This year, local student innovators included:

  • Fatima Aguilar, Piner High School, speaking about her civic involvement and its impact on her life.
  • Anamaria Morales, a Santa Rosa Jr. College student and El Molino graduate who is earning money for business school through a self-started cheesecake business.
  • Ethan Paisley, Marin School of the Arts and Petaluma resident, who runs a film company for and by youths under 18. He spoke about the power of film and media to improve everyday life.
  • Ellie Ramos, Sonoma Country Day School, who spoke about her love for engineering and robotics and how she persisted in following her interests despite some setbacks.
  • Luisa Trejo, Rincon Valley Charter School, who spoke about discovering a passion for saving sea turtles and incorporating science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts into her efforts to raise awareness about their plight at the Sonoma County STEAM Showacase.
  • Jaia Foster, Sonoma Academy, who described his incredible project to engineer a computing device that could be used by students with disabilities.

The students were followed by Sir Ken Robinson, who spoke eloquently and humorously of the need for creativity in education. "There is much more to human intelligence than academic ability," he told an appreciative crowd.

More About Sir Ken Robinson

Called “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine, Robinson has received numerous awards and recognitions for his groundbreaking contributions. Videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference are the most viewed in the history of the organization and have been seen by an estimated 300 million people in over 150 countries. He was included in Thinkers50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers and has been named one of TIME/Fortune/CNN’s Principal Voices. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts. His latest book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education (Viking, 2015), written with Robinson’s trademark wit and engaging style, includes groundbreaking research and tackles the critical issue of how to transform the nation’s troubled educational system.

More About the Student Speakers

Fatima Aguilar has been an active community volunteer for most of her teen years. She is currently the District Lieutenant Governor for her Northern California Key Club and is the President of Community Action Partnership's DIG Youth Leadership program.

Anamaria Morales started a cheesecake business called College Confectionista when she was 18. She plans to use the money to attend college. Her motto on her Facebook page is "Baking my way into college one cheesecake at a time."

Ethan Paisley founded and heads Take18 Entertainment, a self-supporting film production company that employs other teen actors and filmmakers, even though he is only 16 years old.

Ellie Ramos has earned numerous awards in advanced robotics, engineering, and programming. She is currently volunteering with eNabling the Future, a global network of passionate people using 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb device.

Luisa Trejo submitted a STEAM Showcase project on turtle conservation. She had information and an action each citizen could take, learned to weld to develop a model that furthered her conservation cause, and raised money for turtle conservation.

Jaia Foster's ability to translate digital visions into physical reality harnessing a myriad of different tools and systems is inspiring. Jaia recently studied the intricacies of the "Arduino" microprocessor and coding language, and then leveraged the system to develop tools to assist local middle school students with severe physical and mental disabilities in interacting with their computer devices.