Good morning! My name is Ted Walters, but friends call me Theodore. The point of my visit today to Merge/Sort Junior High School - Home of the Fighting F-Nines-is to tell you about something very important. Something you can’t live without. No, it’s not coloring books or chocolate milk. No. It’s gravity.

I like to think of gravity as a jack of all trades. It comforts the sick, runs a vacuum cleaner, and makes an otter’s fur coat even glossier. Without even trying, gravity puts those little threads in every dollar bill produced by the U.S. Mint. And were you wondering why your Dad smokes a pipe? Gravity never stops.

Even though gravity is everywhere, it is still the single most under-appreciated force of nature in the world. In fact, it is openly defied every day by people we call “heroes.” And we have Hollywood — you may disagree with me here, Principal Mullen, your background being costume and design — we have Hollywood glamorizing anti-gravity environments in moving pictures.

So, in 1987, I created the Gravity Foundation. Some of you were still kicking around in your mother’s stomach at the time. The Foundation’s mission is to promote a positive image of gravity and act as an advocate for gravity, locally and internationally. We even have an office in Hungary.

Show of hands: how many of you would say gravity is “cool”? Come on, get those hands up. Well, you can see why the Foundation has a lot more work to do. Let me assure you all — gravity is very cool. Like my old friend Reverend Don — and by the way, Reverend Don loves to kid that I’m the most “down-to-earth” guy he knows — Reverend Don always says, “If it weren’t for gravity, we’d all be speaking German now.”

Let’s try an experiment. Everyone in this auditorium — close your eyes.

Good. Now try to imagine you’re at a birthday party. There are lots of blue and yellow balloons everywhere. A record is spinning on the hi-fi. Your aunt who never married has brought a casserole with a crunchy top layer. Sounds good, right?

Now try to imagine that same scene without gravity. Uh-oh. You can’t, can you? Gravity is what makes your eye able to differentiate colors. It also makes the record turn at the right speed. Most importantly, gravity keeps you safe from air-borne bacteria that might have settled on the casserole.

By now you’re saying, “O.K., Ted…” — later on, if we’re friends of course, you’ll be calling me Theodore — “O.K., Ted, I understand that gravity is essential to all living creatures. But what’s in it for me? Why should I take time out from my baseball games, tea parties with my dolls, and helping Mom with chores to learn more about gravity?”

Why? Because you are the future of America. It’s up to you to make sure that the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth is respected and cherished. Each passing day, gravity is taken more and more for granted. Unless we act now, generations to come will say, “Gravity? What’s that? I’ve never heard of that.” It will be as if gravity were invisible.

Fortunately, the Gravity Foundation is scrambling to avoid that fate. We host the annual “Gravity of the Situation” conference every year in Budapest. We give grants to researchers who are finding new uses for gravity. We propose pro-gravity legislation. And we tour the country with our mascot, Grabby, the gravity-loving crow, who’ll come out and sing for you in just a minute.

If I can leave you with one thought — and I’ll make it quick because I can see you are eager to hear Grabby — it’s the motto of our Foundation, printed on all our glossy brochures: “Even if you don’t believe in gravity, gravity believes in you.” Thank you.