On the TED website, there are over 1,900 TED Talks, videos under eighteen minutes long that explore some idea or concept worth knowing about. TED is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to sponsoring talks and events by speakers who are experts on their subject. There are a variety of powerful, inspiring talks on current events to science to technology to the humanities to you name it, it’s there. And all TED talks are available for free, because they aren’t about making money–they’re about spreading ideas.
It’s true that just about every TED talk is worth listening to, even if it is on a subject that doesn’t correlate with your field. Try their list of talks to watch with kids, or ones about learning what makes you happy.
And in particular for those STEM lovers, TED talks are a gold mine. There are science, engineering, and manufacturing experts from all over the world that speak for TED Talks. Since there are 1,900, however, it can be difficult to narrow down which ones are best. Here are a few of our favorites, but feel free to spend some time browsing on their website! We can’t guarantee that you won’t be on it for hours, though…
- Science is for Everyone, Kids Included: If you have a son or daughter interested in science, this is a terrific one to watch with them. Neuroscientist Beau Lotto and 12-year old Amy O’Toole talk about what science and play have in common, and how the process of discovery can change perceptions for kids who participate in science. O’Toole is an expert in this category as one of 25 classmates who published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren about the Blackawton bees project. “Once we played the games and then started to think about the puzzle, I then realized that science isn’t just a boring subject, and that anyone can discover something new. You just need an opportunity,” says O’Toole.
- We Are Makers: In this great 2011 talk by Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine, Dougherty discusses the idea that America was built by makers. These curious amateur inventors turned tinkering into entire industries! Dougherty argues that all of us, not just manufacturers themselves, are makers at heart, using 3D printers as one of his examples. “Well, if I haven’t convinced you that you’re a maker, I hope I could convince you that our next generation should be makers, that kids are particularly interested in this, in this ability to control the physical world and be able to use things like micro-controllers and build robots. And we’ve got to get this into schools, or into communities in many, many ways — the ability to tinker, to shape and reshape the world around us. There’s a great opportunity today — and that’s what I really care about the most. An the answer to the question: what will America make? It’s more makers,” concludes Dougherty.
- To Create for the Ages, Let’s Combine Art and Engineering: Tech expert Bran Ferren describes the moment when he saw the Pantheon in Rome, and how it changed his entire perspective on science. He began to understand how tools of science and engineering become more powerful when combined with art, with design, and beauty. This relates a bit to what we’ve walked about on the blog regarding STEM vs. STEAM, and is relevant to all makers today.