STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World


The STEAM collection (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) explores the world of ideas with leading innovators who spoke at the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville. Topics range from infectious disease and evolutionary biology to virtual reality, inventions, and alien minds.

  • Video Projection Mapping | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World

    Artist Ricardo Rivera uses video projection mapping to create video installations that tell stories. He explains how the technology works, using computer software and a video projector to turn a three-dimensional space into a canvas for video art. He then shows examples from two of his own video installations. His talk was part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • The Evolution of Behavior: Power Struggles | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World

    Studying the use of power among animals can offer insights into human societies. Evolutionary biologist Lee Dugatkin explains a basic mathematical model used to predict behavior in power struggles over resources. He also describes how winning and losing streaks affect the power structure in a group, and discusses more subtle behaviors among animals, like gauging aggression in others and keeping track of favors owed. His talk was part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • The Spread of Disease | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World

    Science journalist Sonia Shah explains the history of microbes that cause widespread disease outbreaks. Using cholera as an example, she explains how a microbial disease can become pandemic. She also tracks contemporary epidemics of Ebola, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease, and identifies habitat disruption and crowding as major threats. She spoke as part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Inventions | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World

    Science writer Pagan Kennedy describes how inventors use their curiosity and creativity in novel ways to make breakthrough discoveries and innovative products. Some inventors solve problems others haven’t noticed yet; others start with the end product and find a use for it. Sometimes inventors take advantage of an unexpected outcome or offer a radical new perspective to create a product. Kennedy spoke as part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Cancer Diagnosis and Screening | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World

    Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, discusses what cancer is and the role of technology in diagnosis, and how genomic analysis will open new avenues of treatment. He also discusses the dilemma of treating early-stage cancers without knowing whether they need treatment. He spoke as part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Alien Minds | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World

    In astrobiology, scientists study how life evolves in the universe. Susan Schneider, a cognitive scientist and philosopher, was asked by NASA to consider what alien life might be like. If advanced, intelligent alien life is ever discovered, she says, it most likely will be a form of superintelligent artificial intelligence (SAI). She explains the types of superintelligence and considers whether this type of alien life will have consciousness. Her talk was part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Virtual Reality | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our world

    Technology writer Ben Kuchera explains how virtual reality technology works and the history of its development. He also demonstrates what can be seen in a virtual reality simulation. He then examines the pros and cons of indulging in experiences that are not real, but virtual. He spoke as part of the 2016 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Ky.

    Grades: 6-13+