Thomas Suarez has two published apps, a startup company and a compelling TED talk under his belt -- all at the tender age of 12.
In a compelling October 22 talk at a TED conference in Manhattan Beach, the Los Angeles student held forth on topics like tech integration in education, app access for all children, and how teachers could best use the classroom's greatest resource -- the students themselves. The video of Suarez's speech was uploaded last week and already has over 400,000 views.
The tween, who's fluent in programming languages like Python, C and Java, also discussed how difficult it was for kids his age to look for guidance if they wanted to get creative with software development. "For soccer, you could go to a soccer team. For violin, you could get lessons for a violin," he explained. "But what if you want to make an app?"
That's why Suarez created an app club for students at his school. It's a place for him to share his experience creating apps and putting them on the app store (he had to ask his parents to pay the $99 fee to register with the Apple App Store). But the club is also a resource for teachers, he revealed, and any other educator at his school who wants to experiment with tech education in the classroom.
The New York Times cited Suarez's TED talk as a reason for parents to rethink their hard and fast stance on "screen time" limitations, asking "Isn't three or four hours a week spent on using an app to create a stop motion movie a much different prospect than two hours of decorating a virtual room?"
Suarez's first published app, called "Earth Fortune," is a fortune teller that colors the earth different colors according to its prediction. His second, called "Bustin Jieber," is a whac-a-mole game app that replaces the mole with a photo of Justin Bieber's head.
Right now, in addition to completing the sixth grade, Suarez is working on launching CarrotCorp, his first company. While the company and site are still developing, CarrotCorp's homepage pays homage to Suarez's inspiration: the late Steve Jobs.
The slideshow below has some of the best TED Talks from this year. Take a look: