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Meet 9 awesome TEDYouth teens, from a claymation animator to a speed stacker

At TEDYouth, music producer Young Guru will talk about the future of hip hop, Curiosity rover flight director Bobak Ferdowsi will explain how the heck he got a two ton machine to Mars and science writer Carl Zimmer will present his favorite parasite. But at this event — taking place on November 17 at the Times Center in Manhattan — the audience members will be just as cool as those on stage. Among the 450 teens signed up for the conference are origamists, aerospace scholars, gymnasts, web developers, roboticists and founders of non-profits.

Here, meet a random selection of soon-to-be attendees, all students at public high schools in the New York City area.

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Sean Simonds, 17
. Sean uses his stop-motion skills to create claymation animation. Why? Says Sean, “For other people to enjoy and because I like making them.”

Lily He, 14. Lily is an expert speed stacker. She explains, “In elementary school, I was introduced to Speed Stacks, a sport where you stack and unstack special cups in a specific fashion, in the least amount of time. It involves hand-eye coordination, swift movements and balance. I like to play it during my free time, and my fastest time is around 14 seconds.”

Sofia Degtyar, 18. Sofia loves reciting Russian tongue twisters. She is the founder of Free English 4 Kids, a nonprofit project organized by American teenagers supporting speaking skills of English language learners.

Gloria Wan, Michelle Chan and Mandy Wong, 16 and 17. These three comic artists applied to attend TEDYouth together. “Sometimes we forget we’re human beings. We become a factory line of reproduced ideas,” they wrote in the piece above. “Then I came across other people with ideas, with opinions, with thoughts.”

Shayne Coplan, 14. A musician who plays the guitar, bass, keyboards and ukulele, Shayne has written a variety of songs, which you can listen to at Sound Cloud.

Jeremy Uys, 14. Back in the day, kids put together model Zeppelins — a type of airship that once docked on the spire of the Empire State Building — as they did model airplanes. Jeremy, however, creates Zeppelin models using 3D graphics.

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Check out the full lineup of TEDYouth speakers here.