Discovering personal greatness in pre-school through grade 8 students - Burlington, Vermont

Brian David Johnson

Since Mater Christi School in Burlington has a long tradition of utilizing the talent with which it is surrounded, including that of the members of the IBM, Fletcher Allen Health Care, UVM, St. Michael’s College, Shelburne Museum and the Tarrant Institute communities, it seemed very appropriate to accept the invitation of Dr. Laurel Bongiorno, Dean of Education at Champlain College, to help host Brian David Johnson, the Chief Futurist at Intel Corporation. Before his evening  lecture for the public at Champlain College on April 2, Brian David Johnson, spent time at Mater Christi with the 6th graders in their science class.

Brian began the 40 minute class by explaining that he is a futurist – that since the company where he works makes computer chips which will be used 10-15 years from now, it is necessary to imagine what is “coming down the road.” To get the activity started in which Johnson hoped to get some ideas from the students, he reminded them that they are the future. He then invited the 6th graders to tell him what they hope to become when they are adults. Answers varied from baseball players, physicians, and mail carriers to mechanical engineers and French and art professors. He summed up these hopes and dreams with, “The future is not fixed; it is made by people.”

Next he discussed the concept of robot with the children, and then invited them to describe what their robot would be able to do. Some of the answers included: “someone who has emotions and could interact with me;” “would look like a human, having a skin-like substance over its parts so that when it comes places with me in the car, other drivers would ‘not freak out;’ ”  “it would walk and feed the dog;” “would go to school when you were sick and couldn’t.”  Brian then stated, “If you can draw it, we can build it,” and he asked the students to divide into groups and draw robots.

The students spent about ten minutes on this project. Some of the names they gave their robots were “Creative Carl”, “Simon B1”; “Keith Bot, Jr. the III” and “Mimia “(the one with the mechanical skin).

Lastly, he collected the drawings, and the students and Mr. Pendergrass their science teacher presented a Power Point expressing their gratitude to him.

As the Chief Futurist at Intel Corporation, Brian David Johnson’s work focuses on developing an actionable vision for computing in 2020. His work is called future casting – using field studies, technology research, trend data, and even science fiction to provide Intel with a vision of consumers and computing.

Chief Futurist at Intel Corporation