Jay Silver

Jay Silver

Innovator & Researcher at MIT Media Lab
Fee Range
Exact fee falls within this range
Traveling From
New York

Program Descriptions

The world is a Construction Kit
There are things happening all around us that are invisible unless we are looking for them. Bananas are a piano, pizza slices are slide clickers, and play dough or pencil drawings can control your Pac Man game.

The innate curiosity of all humans is examined through the eyes of a baby and then through teens in nature. Through examples from Jay Silver′s research at MIT Media Lab, we can see how off-the-shelf products can catalyze the inventor in us all. This isn′t a story about technical genius, it′s a story about everyday genius that every person can tap when they allow themselves to un-know reality long enough to have the momentary insight of the wild, undomesticated human mind.

Live Demo Options (can also be set-up as an interactive workshop for all audience members or just selected volunteers onstage)

Spaghetti Drill
Let′s wake up! Simple, everyday transformations can bring a new perspective. A classic inventioneering trick is to take two things and put them together to make something new. How can you do this in your everyday life? Simple proof that primes the audience that the world is easily reformable.

MaKey MaKey Pizza Slide Clicker
Demo of MaKey MaKey with pizza slices (or whatever food is available). Full setup of MaKey MaKey - with a laptop - from top to bottom. This demo is especially important if MaKey MaKey′s are given to audience members as a gift. Jay shows how to creatively transform what the audience is doing right now (viewing slides from a computer) from plastic to pizza slide clicker.

Drawdio Paintbrush Demo (Ketchup / String)
This crowd pleaser feels really magical because it has no computer. Just a paintbrush with a piano circuit which then paints sounds on an easel using ketchup as the paint. It can then be shown that string (and even spaghetti) can be played like a violin just by connecting them to the paintbrush using human fingers.

Scratch Programming
What does programming plus LEGO bricks look like? Scratch shows an example of massive collaboration by absolute beginners, using programming to make everything from Tetris to interactive art to customized prototypes. Free to download and use at home, fun for kids, and usable by novice adults, a Scratch demo shows how big ideas like "recursion" and "conditionals" and "for loops" can be experimented with the same way as LEGOs: through bottom up serendipity. If asked, I will show the first ever Scratch sample project I made when I was on the Scratch team, which is a breakdancing project, and I will try to perform (10 years later) some of the same breakdancing moves.


Biography Read more

Jay Silver was Intel′s first Maker Research Scientist and Founder/Director at JoyLabz; which produces products that help people to become agents of creative change in the world. He’s invented many popular creative platforms such as Drawdio (Time′s Top 15 Toys for Young Geniuses) and MaKey MaKey (Kickstarted for $550,000). CNN has called him “…a leading proponent of the Maker Movement."

The Maker Movement is a rebirth of DIY (do it yourself) and DIWO (do it with others) with an emphasis on the whimsical, entrepreneurial and educational. The most visceral instantiation of the Maker Movement are the dozens of Maker Faires held around the world.

Jay studied electrical engineering at Georgia Tech where he was named Engineer of the Year. He was awarded a Gates Scholarship to earn a master’s in Internet Technology from Cambridge University. He also holds a master’s and PhD ABD from MIT Media Lab where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow and Lemelson Prize winner for inventiveness. A popular class he taught at MIT was called “Radical Design for Learning”; where students took action designing iterative learning situations with a focus on experiential and nontraditional learning modalities.

Jay helped develop Scratch, an online programming language used by millions. His inventions have been licensed and productized by many electronics and toy companies. Jay’s company bootstrapped $2 million in revenue in the first year and continues it’s rapid growth to date.

Jay has been a featured keynote speaker at TED, PopTech, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, IDEO, Google and many other global events. He has worked for companies and organizations ranging in diversity from Lincoln Labs (national defense research laboratory), to BellSouth, and UC San Diego. He has exhibited internationally at many museums including Ars Electronica and NT MOFA.

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"Jay is a creative force. He sees the world through a different lens than the rest of us. Whenever I hear Jay talk, or see some of his wonderfully joyful inventions, I come away with a smile on my face and new ideas in my head."
--MIT Media Lab

"Jay was one of the biggest surprises we had at PopTech 2012. Easily a crowd favorite, Jay is an engaging and lively speaker, spreading the gospel of DIY art-tech with an infectious blend of humor and intelligence."
--Pop Tech

We had the pleasure of experiencing Jay for a full morning workshop, where he took our clients on a great journey through the workings of the human mind to unlock our potential to think creatively. The event was inspiring, fun and weird - all at the same time."