There has long been a sense that teenagers live on another planet.
These days, said Don Marinelli, they live in a different universe.
Marinelli, who will deliver the keynote address Tuesday evening for this week’s STEM Carib conference at the University College of the Cayman Islands, is talking about a digital universe. And it is not just one.
“I call [it] the multiverse,” Marinelli said. “It’s parallel to the idea in physics of multiple universes. With modern technology, young people are living in multiple universes.”
Those universes include physical, augmented, alternate, and virtual realities, he said.
Teachers, he added, need to figure out what universe their students are living in and navigate whatever specific terrain is necessary to reach them.
Marinelli’s 6pm speech, which follows a 5:30pm reception, will kick off a three-day series of presentations and events on subjects related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is the eighth time UCCI has hosted the international event, which is aimed at spurring student interest in STEM fields.
While he speaks and teaches largely on technology issues, the long-time Carnegie Mellon University professor – he retired in 2012 – has a background in psychology and drama. He was co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon. Currently, he is a visiting professor at Arizona State University’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering.
Marinelli said he’s been to Cayman in the past. During his most recent visit, he said, he was spooked by the snakes and iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, and quickly fled the grounds.
He’s more likely to get his excitement through a computer and will also lecture on e-sports during the conference. He made it clear he was not a competitor.
“My fingers can’t move that quickly,” he said. “I produce events. I report on events. I do a lot of casual games.”
Other lecture titles during the conference include ‘Women in STEM,’ ‘What’s Really in Your Food?’, ‘Rube Goldberg Machines’ and ‘First Robotics’.
There are also experiential workshops, including ones on forensic science, robotics and science fair presentations.
Events on Wednesday begin at 8:30am. On Thursday and Friday, the schedule starts at 9am.
The Tuesday reception and keynote speech are free to the public as is the family fun afternoon at 1pm Friday. Single-day tickets for the rest of the conference range from $25 to $50. Public school teachers, STEM student ambassadors and seniors over 60 will be admitted free.
Cost: Tuesday: Free; Daily tickets on Wednesday and Thursday, $35-$50 (includes lunch); Daily tickets Friday, 9am-12:15pm, $25-$35; Friday, 1-4:30pm, free. At UCCI’s Sir Vassel Johnson Hall.
Visit www.stem.ky/register for more information.