10 Observations about TEDYouth and TED-Ed Workshops

IMG_0605-1I must have accrued some serious karma in a previous life, because last weekend I was granted the unbelievable opportunity to attend TEDYouth in New York City and participate in workshops with the TED-Ed team. To put into context how this all happened, last spring I was invited to take part in the inaugural TED-Ed Innovative Educator (TIE) program. If you are familiar with the Google Certified Innovator or Apple Distinguished Educator programs, it’s kind of similar to that. There are a few dozen educators involved in this TED-Ed pilot program, and we come from all over the world – Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, and Poland, just to name a few. We participated in a bunch of online workshops over the summer (lessons and video-chats), and ours goals are to spark and amplify student ideas around the world and promote TED-like philosophies in education. Obviously, the opportunity to gather in NYC and soak up TEDYouth was an unreal part of this program, so I’ll share a few of the highlights/things I learned below:

  1. The TED-Ed team of Logan, the Stephanies, Ashley, Annie, Tristine and Laura are phenomenal to work with. They are true collaborators and really take feedback to heart. The team really has the best interests of students and educators in mind with every initiative they take on. So if you’ve used TED-Ed resources (lessons, animations, clubs) before, rest assured that the team behind the curtain are super awesome. You know, in case you were wondering.
  2. My fellow TIEs are a similarly rad group of people. There’s just something so inspiring about being in the same room with like-minded, collaborative, and non-pretentious educators. That last part sounds kind of weird, but everyone I met is in this for the love of the game. They are truly student-centric and servant leaders, and everyone has a desire to disrupt education – in a good way, of course.12208335_10208324430968389_3520492116888336732_n
  3. Each of the TIEs are developing TED-Ed supported innovation projects at/for schools, and one of my favorite parts of the trip was group discussions of our proposals. None of them have been officially “approved” yet, but I’ll give you the elevator pitch of mine: I’m hoping to construct a Storycorps-inspired soundproof audio booth where student stories and ideas will be captured. Interview snippets will be hosted and shared online, in essence creating a repository of ideas worth spreading, slices of life, interesting stories – the possibilities are wide open. To wit: it will hopefully be a unique and novel space that will encourage students to share their passions and foster a love of storytelling.
  4. Speaking with Chris Anderson at the TED office was something I’ll always remember. I’ll just leave it at that.IMG_0547
  5. TEDYouth at the Brooklyn Museum was a special event. Main stage aspects worth replicating: tight and concise adult talks, an entirely repurposed stage design, a magician between speakers, beatboxers, musical acts, and prizes/crowd interaction. I even got to beatbox with the pros in the interactive area..and I did not suck!
  6. I’m brimming with ideas to take back to our TEDxLFHS event. BRIMMING. Basically, there was the theatre event and the concurrent interactive area. The Talks occurred over three sessions with long breaks built-in for the kids to engage in hands-on areas, have conversations, and interact with speakers. The speaker interaction was the key – TEDYouth had different speakers that came with items for the kids to see and hold, and the speakers were there to engage the students. How cool is that? Mick Ebeling showed us how to print prosthetics. Joey Mazzarino brought puppets to life. Danit Peleg brought along a 3D printer and 3D printed clothes. It made their Talks so much more powerful, and I desperately want a similar setup at TEDxLFHS.
  7. My favorite speaker? The aforementioned Mick Ebeling. Mick spoke about 3D printing prosthetic, working limbs for a child who had his arms blown off in the Sudan. Mick’s Talk was so inspiring because he didn’t know what the hell he was doing when he decided he wanted to help this kid. He just wanted to do something. In Mick’s words, we should all, “Commit. Then figure it out.” I loved it. By the time Mick flew home from the Sudan, more limbs had already been printed, and others would soon be the beneficiary of Mick’s motivation to learn and give back. Help one, help many.IMG_0613
  8. The TEDYouth team setup a human animation station with a camera on the balcony – the students ate it up. They showed a preview of the finished product at the end of Session 3, so be on the lookout for the full video to go up. (Edit: Here’s the TED-Ed blog post about the process. And here’s the final video).
  9. The day was 7 hours long (7 hours!), and when the emcees announced it was over the crowd of students literally GROANED. After 7 hours! This says something about how the event was organized and facilitated, so hats off to TED for organizing an awesome experience.
  10. Finally – this isn’t TED related – but I had an opportunity to visit the 9/11 memorial and museum. If you ever find yourself in NYC and you’ve never visited the memorial, do it. It was somber, moving, and powerful. I won’t get into it too much, but I spent 3 hours there just soaking it all in. And to me, the memorial wasn’t about politics or patriotism or terrorism or war – it was about people. It was entirely a tribute to the people who lost lives that day, and it was an incredibly emotional and human experience.IMG_0526

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