Phi Theta Kappa – Honor Society
Convention Keynote Case Study
We were asked to develop a program for college honors students 26-45 years old to address their themes of "The Paradox of Affluence" and their environmental service topic of "Keeping America Beautiful." To add to the challenge, we were given only three weeks to develop the program.
The event coordinator had called us because she wanted something exciting and engaging for the conference. We were determined to include both of their themes to maximize the impact of our message, rather than only addressing environmental science. To maximize our impact, we needed to create interactive hands-on sessions for small groups, while also reaching over 250 attendees with a keynote address.
Our response to the challenge presented by Phi Theta Kappa was a keynote focusing on power conversion and a workshop looking deep at the inner workings of everyday consumer electronics by pulling them apart. The take-apart session helped to combat current trends in technology: increasingly opaque technology; we rarely see what's inside our gadgets. Throughout the session, participants discovered amazing things about the products they use every day. The session focused on the environmental impacts of electronics when they reach their "end-of-life" and how we can make better corporate and consumer choices to reduce harmful "e-waste." Additionally, multiple spontaneous opportunities were found for electronics education based around the parts seen in the objects being destructed.
The keynote address focused on power generation, both electrical and sociopolitical power. The speech incorporated explosions to illustrate uncontrolled power generation, audience members generating their own power, analogies to effective power usage, and ties to the themes discussed in the take-apart session.
The take-apart session created a new sense of ownership of participants' devices and choices. Despite the wide range of high-end electronics available for disassembly, one participant was thrilled to learn how a hair dryer worked, so thrilled, in fact, that she was inspired to create her own work of art out of the detritus. Multiple participants were similarly thrilled with taking apart discarded telephones. While everyone was engaged with their own object, everyone shared what they found between themselves, comparing and contrasting the insides of various devices. The session also provided much-needed therapy and fun through a rare opportunity to treat electronics in ways we often wish we could.
The response to the keynote address was similarly positive. Despite having events until 3 am the previous night and a speaker from 8:30-9:30 am, the audience was engaged and responsive during the whole address, laughing along with the jokes and asking insightful questions. Depth of impression was such that audience members immediately asked if we could present at their respective colleges.