Skill Level Appropriate for all
(upbeat music) - [Interviewer] Tell me more about getting a second chance and what that meant to you. You know, how do we promote all principals or leaders in a school to be like Mr. Knapp? - Yeah, well I think the first thing that every, we have to recognize is that there has to be a model by which we don't think of every person as the same and we don't use the same lens to look at a kid and say, you know what? You have to be married against this grading system or this style.
How do we recognize the special values everyone has and foster and nurture that? And how do we find people who can augment that? You know, one of the ones that I was very fortunate of, I had a physics teacher, Barbara Minetti. She basically saw that I was just a scrub and didn't have anything and so she just gave me a giant box of physics kind of experimental lab stuff, And she's like, you'll figure out something interesting with this and she's like, just bring it back at the end of the year. If you've ever seen those pictures of a droplet of water hitting a plate and then the droplet kind of forms this beautiful crown? So this is before super high-speed photography.
The way you'd make those images is started by a professor from MIT called Edgerton. And those are the ones with the bullet going to the apple and all those things. My dad was a TA for him, and along with another person, Dr. Bose, who's the founder of Bose electronics and speakers and all that. And so my dad had some of the old notes and so I said, well why don't I try to recreate that image? Like what if I rewired a flash to take that picture so I'd make the room completely dark and then I'd have to have the flash go off and I'd have to have the drop leave the pipette at the right time, hit the ground, and then capture that.
So how do you know that distance? Well, that's physics. That's distance equals 1/2 AT squared, the acceleration and the time and so you could calculate that, but you have to know exactly when it's leaving that. And so I was able to design a trigger that was able to do that. I was doing all that just instead of going to school. But I had somebody fundamentally who was like yeah, why not? Go do that instead. Because whatever we're teaching you in school, it's not workin' for you. It's not getting through there.
So let's find a different way to get you that information. And that's stuck with me forever and so I was doing lots of hard things but just not hard things that get measured in an SAT test. I got lucky. You know, I had a Mr. Knapp, I had a Barbara Minetti, that knew how to do this. I had a father who was super-encouraging of like not just coming down on me and being like look, you have to do it, you have to take this SAT. Just like fine, you'll figure it out. And just, you know, encouraging me to use science and other things creatively.
What about kids that are just on the street that are out there? What about the African American youth that we haven't empowered or we have not invested in? What about the Hispanic youth that aren't getting the service that they need? How many lost kids are there that could be better than me but didn't have a chance? Or the testing that wasn't there that actually could be used to recognize that they have that power, that ability? That's the gap that I fear, fundamentally and it's one of the reasons why I think we have to ask ourselves how do we make more Mr. Knapps, more Barbara Minettis? Like that's the quintessential thing of what it means to invest in our future.
And making and giving people second chances. And second chances could be, you know, a kid like me who screwed up, gets suspended 'cause he threw a stink bomb in a class. OK, stupid thing, peer pressure, fine. There are plenty of kids who would get arrested for that these days. I mean we had a kid in Texas who built an alarm clock and people thought he was a terrorist and they suspended him. They took him to a jail. How do we allow kids to actually show and foster in another way? But more so for all the kids that otherwise screw up or don't have a good role model or whatever it is, how do we give them a chance to prove their value instead of getting them stuck into some type of system? And this is just within the United States.
Take that and expand it across the globe. How many Einsteins are out there that don't have a chance just because they're a kid growing up in Syria or a kid growing up, you know, in a totalitarian regime in Egypt or somewhere else? That's the stuff that could fundamentally change the world and revolutionize the next set of innovations that carry us forward as not just as a society, but as a species. (upbeat music)