July 11, 2009
[David Dalrymple wrote this at age 9. We will update it. - Ed.]
I am not sure where to start my biography, because so many things have happened in my life. Most people would probably tell me to start at the beginning. But I don’t really even know where the beginning is. Was it before I was born? Was it when I was born? Was it at eighteen months, when I started reading? With this puzzle in mind, I don’t think I will even start at the beginning.
Instead I will start in August of 1999. This is when I received and eagerly read a book called When Things Start To Think. I was so impressed with this book that I decided to write a letter to the author, Dr. Neil Gershenfeld. I had several interesting questions for this author, which I believe took him by surprise. In any case, he was certainly surprised when he saw my signature, which said that I was an eight-year-old ninth grader. He wrote back, which took my family and me by surprise, and we soon had a correspondence with this man working at MIT.
In November, Dr. Gershenfeld had a fascinating offer for me. He wanted me to present on two panels in conjunction with the White House/Smithsonian America’s Millennium Celebration in D.C. on the Mall. The first panel was where several people of different ages discussed their views on technology and the future. The second panel was where I was to present a Lego MindStorms invention that I had created on my own. For that panel, I was even given Lego MindStorms parts. Later, the panels were moved indoors, but they were also scheduled to go on television! Both presentations were at the Hirshhorn Museum and broadcast on C-SPAN. The White House reception following was where I met Dr. Ray Kurzweil, who has since supplied me with advice and tools to help me experiment and grow. Dr. Gershenfeld decided, after seeing those panels, that I should go to MIT to make a presentation there! Tormod Askildsen, of Lego Headquarters in Denmark, the man who had given me some of my Lego MindStorms (Dr. Gershenfeld’s colleague Dr. Mitch Resnick gave me my first Lego MindStorms kit), decided to invite me to a presentation for people such as John Glenn and other members of the Glenn Commission. This presentation was for ACM, and for my work at this event, I was given a year-long complimentary membership to their group.
I am now on the schedule for TED11, a conference focusing on technology, entertainment, and design. The founder of Netscape and the founder of AOL will be presenting with others such as Martha Stewart, Noah Wiley, and Ray Kurzweil. That should be a very interesting conference.
One might question how I got to be a presenter at TED11 when I am only 9 years old and have not founded any major companies, don’t have a reputation for excellent home decorating, don’t star on any network television series, haven’t had a book published, and don’t yet own a patent. At the MIT conference, a guest there named James Young suggested I contact Richard Saul Wurman about being a presenter for TED11. From the way I have been described on the TED website – “Home-educated ten-year-old speaker & award-winning essayist” – I will guess it might have been due to a combination of my being home educated, speaking at various venues during the year, and having won various essay contests such as second place at age 6 in the national Merrill Lynch essay contest for 4th through 7th graders on why saving is important and then winning the grand prize (two computers) at age 7 in the national Kraft/BJ’S Wholesale Club essay contest on how to make the world a better place. While I continue to be primarily home educated (really more “real world” educated), I also am very much enjoying being a part-time student at University of Maryland, where I will perhaps start full-time in fall of 2001.
Finally, a few of the other things I enjoy include: giving handchime choir and tap dance performances, reading and doing magic tricks for retirement home residents and others, creating original compositions on my Kurzweil keyboard, and writing computer programs. Being a kid is something I really don’t want to give up – I’m having a lot of fun being one.