Thursday, July 20, 2017

20+ ways to teach STEM for less than 30 cents per student

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“Growing up, my parents never abandoned an opportunity to teach me about different cultures and ideologies,” says TED-Ed Innovative Educator Alicia C. Lane. “But it was my exploration-focused hometown of Huntsville, Alabama — also known as ‘Rocket City’ — that launched my interest in science and engineering.” Alicia’s passion for STEM led her to earn degrees in chemistry and in civil/environmental engineering, and to become a leader within several nonprofits, including the National Society of Black Engineers and the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. While working as a civil engineer in Detroit, Alicia was also awarded a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship, and earned a Master of Arts in education from the University of Michigan. Subsequently, she managed the STEM-themed career and technical education programs within DC Public Schools, where she launched the first biomedical science, computer science, and engineering career programs east of the river at Anacostia and HD Woodson High Schools. Today, Alicia is a program director for Techbridge Girls, which aims to increase access to STEM careers.

In her free time, Alicia travels as much as she can and works on her TED-Ed Innovation Project, codenamed DollarStoreSTEM. Learn more about her project below.


Classroom science and technology experiments can be expensive. Yet there are many ways to teach STEM for less than 30 cents per student. As an engineer-turned-educator, Alicia created an online resource with 20+ lesson plans that make it easy and affordable to teach fundamental concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math — using everyday objects.


What first comes to mind when you think about technology? Technology is all around us, yet according to Engineering is Elementary, ”many students believe that technology only refers to things powered by electricity.” In Alicia’s Technology in a Bag lesson plan, students examine a “mystery bag” filled with non-electric examples of technology and discuss the process of invention. Other lesson plans developed by Alicia include Wonder Woman Super Cuffs and the Marshmallow Challenge. Every lesson plan featured on DollarStoreSTEM is designed to be:

  • affordable (less than 30 cents per student)
  • accessible (kid- and teacher-tested)
  • aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (Science and Engineering Practices), and
  • accompanied by TED-Ed lessons (to help with implementation)

Alicia’s tips:

  • DO submit your favorite lesson to DollarStoreSTEM. If selected, you will receive a free #DollarStoreSTEM classroom kit, which includes enough supplies to serve approximately 20-25 students.
  • DO use or retro-fit what you already have (lessons, supplies, etc.) and what is already published on Many of my lessons are “borrowed” and re-packaged to make planning and execution easier.
  • DON’T let suggested grade levels be a barrier. DO what teachers do best, and translate it to meet the needs and grade levels of your students.
  • DO email for help!

This article is part of the TED-Ed Innovation Project series, which highlights 25+ TED-Ed Innovation Projects designed by educators, for educators, with the support and guidance of the TED-Ed Innovative Educator program. You are welcome to share, duplicate and modify projects under this Creative Commons license to meet the needs of students and teachers. Art credit: TED-Ed.

via TED-Ed Blog

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

IP address correction

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Our process at TED-Ed involves several steps to make sure the content we present is factually accurate. First, the authors of lessons are educators and subject matter experts. Second, we have a team of fact-checkers who review our content and flag anything that needs review. Unfortunately, there are times when we still make mistakes! That was the case with a lesson we recently published (“How do computers find websites so quickly”).

Our community was extremely helpful and proactive in identifying an error, and after further research and verification, we took the video down. We see mistakes as great learning moments, and the author of the lesson, Chand John, was kind enough to explain what went wrong. (Read his letter below.) The main content of this lesson — explaining how hash tables work and why they’re important — is something we see as valuable in and out of the classroom, and Chand is an excellent educator and communicator. So we’ll be working with him to create a new version that will come at the content from a different direction. Every video we produce takes several months to make, because our script-writing and animation-creating processes both require a lot of time and attention; please stay tuned for a new, corrected version of this video later in the year!

Below, read Chand John’s letter:

When you use the Internet, many different processes and entities are involved: domain name servers, routing protocols, and much more. In an attempt to create a lesson about hash tables in the context of Internet communication, I chose to base the lesson on a very widely available hash table, called the Linux routing cache. Here are a couple of nice descriptions of the routing cache:

There was a key mistake in how this was introduced in the lesson, however: the Linux routing cache, which contains IP addresses and related information, existed on many devices, but in conducting research for this piece, I misunderstood the context in which the routing cache is typically used.

We introduced the routing cache (which we called a “routing table” in the video, since it was one of multiple routing-related tables available on many computers) in the context of typical Web browsing. However, what the video describes is more like what a router itself can do during typical Internet use, if it happens to use this type of hash table, and *not* what your own computer typically does when you access the Internet (unless, perhaps, you configured it to act like a router itself).

In short, while the routing cache described in the video has *existed* on a very wide array of devices, it is not necessarily *used* on most of those devices for the purpose suggested in the original video.

While we tried *not* to make this lesson describe all aspects of Internet communication (our goal was to focus on one particular aspect of it involving a widely available hash table), the earlier parts of the video make it sound like this hash table is something your devices do every time you use the Internet, which is inaccurate. My big concern after realizing my mistake is that viewers not misunderstand how typical Internet communication works.

We instructors make mistakes sometimes, and sometimes we like to turn these into valuable lessons of their own: in subjects like computer science, where really tiny details can make a huge difference in whether something works or not, or whether a statement is correct or not, the important thing is to be open to feedback, to understand that we will make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes, and to share that knowledge. This is why computer programmers often review each other’s work, why many publications have editors, and why academic research papers go through detailed peer review.

When challenging yourself by learning and doing new things, you will make mistakes, experience failure, and feel discouraged at times. It is how you handle these moments that most influences whether you will continue to progress in your learning. So, those times of failure are your best opportunities to prove to yourself that you can keep going, and to see those moments not as barriers that stop your progress, but rather as stepping stones from which you can propel both yourself and others to new heights. It helps to know that you’re not alone: even the world’s most famous, successful people make mistakes. Chances are, they have made more mistakes than most people, because many of them took on difficult challenges that others avoided.

There’s a big difference between *striving* to be correct 100% of the time, and *expecting* oneself to be right all the time. Mistakes can have consequences, but if you’re willing to learn from them, chances are you will continue to progress in your learning. The biggest barrier I’ve seen to people’s progress is not being wrong at times; it’s the expectation that the point of learning is to be right all the time, and then avoiding new challenges due to an exaggerated fear of failure. And it’s important to support each other when we do encounter new challenges: that’s why we educators and TED-Ed do what we do, to support and encourage our viewers to take on new educational challenges in a fun and inspiring way.

Our top priority is to ensure that educators and students receive accurate information, and I do apologize to all viewers who may have been misinformed about the mechanics of typical Internet communication. I thank everyone who has contributed to the discussion on this video, as well as the amazing team — animators, narrator, editors, and the whole TED-Ed team — who have worked so hard on putting this together. It is a real privilege to continue to work with them on creating these beautifully illustrated lessons for the benefit of viewers worldwide.

— Chand

via TED-Ed Blog

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

TED-Ed challenges you to see how many clubs you can start


How might we amplify student voices around the world? At a recent TED-Ed Weekend workshop, student attendees answered this question with a challenge: start as many TED-Ed Clubs as possible! And the TED-Ed Clubs Student Voice Challenge was born.

The goal of the TED-Ed Clubs Student Voice Challenge is to start as many new TED-Ed Clubs as possible in the next 3 months — because every student has an idea worth sharing. Know someone in another class, another part of your school, a different school, an after-school program, a club, or even an online community, who might be interested in giving a talk from the TED stage? Then you’re ready to take the challenge! Here’s how to participate:

1. Tell us you are participating in the TED-Ed Clubs Student Voice Challenge by filling out this form.
2. Recruit as many people as you can who will organize students to share their voices in TED-Ed Clubs.
3. Send this link to whoever you recruit to join an orientation call about TED-Ed Clubs.

The TED-Ed Clubs program supports students in discovering, exploring and presenting their big ideas in the form of short, TED-style talks. In TED-Ed Clubs, students work together to discuss and celebrate creative solutions to problems worth solving. Students also receive TED-Ed’s flexible public speaking curriculum to guide their club and to help inspire the next generation of leaders. To learn more about TED-Ed Clubs, go here:

via TED-Ed Blog

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

TED-Ed Weekend = student voices, amplified!

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TED-Ed Weekend is just like the official TED conference, except for one thing: it’s dedicated to student voice.

At the June 2017 TED-Ed Weekend, thousands of people tuned in via Facebook Live to watch students take the mic at TED Headquarters in New York City. On stage, students shared ideas about everything from ADHD and the human mind, to solar energy and ocean clean-up. Off stage, students participated in hands-on workshops about creativity, VR, and animation.

Below, meet some of the TED-Ed Weekend June 2017 student speakers on their journey from TED-Ed Club to TED Headquarters:

Then, watch how TED-Ed Weekend June 2017 student attendees animated playful audience reactions to TED Talks — aka That Feeling When, or TFW — using a technique called pixillation:

To learn more about the impact of TED-Ed Weekend, watch how students describe the experience of coming together from around the world to share ideas:

If you missed this TED-Ed Weekend, don’t worry! There will be future opportunities to get involved in amplifying student voice. Each TED-Ed Weekend event features an amazing lineup of student speakers from around the globe. In addition to sharing ideas, student attendees have the opportunity to connect with experts, learn valuable new skills, explore ideas that matter, join hands-on media and animation workshops, and form lasting friendships within the global TED student community.

Questions about how to get involved with the next TED-Ed Weekend event? Email us at

~The TED-Ed Team

To learn more about how TED-Ed celebrates and amplifies student voices, or to start your own TED-Ed Club, go to

via TED-Ed Blog

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

5 simple ways to stay creative when you’re off from school

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Who invented the popsicle? Why is ketchup so hard to pour? Is binge watching bad for you? Now is the perfect time to explore the questions that spark your creativity. Here are 5 more ways to stay inspired:

1. Design your own learning adventure. ”What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything,” wrote Pedro Arrupe. “It will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you.” What do you love to do? What experiences do you want to have? How much time and energy are you willing to commit to practicing a new skill? These are your primary creative constraints. To find a way to learn more about what you love, check out the nerd’s guide to learning everything online.

2. Schedule fun, weekly field trips t0 follow your curiosity. Julia Cameron calls this practice “the artist date” — and describes it as “a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.” For example, you might visit a museum, art gallery, or science center; go for a long walk outside in a city, campus, or park; or seek out live music and performance. The specifics are up to you!

3. Keep an idea notebook. If ideas are butterflies, notebooks are nets. Whether you carry a pocket-sized sketchbook, a bunch of index cards with a rubber band around them, or a digital notepad, the important thing is to capture the ideas, dialogue, or patterns that draw your attention, because that’s how you start to find wonderful ideas.

4. Try a 10-day creative challenge. The idea is simple: for 10 days, spend 20 minutes a day in active creativity. Document your progress. Not sure where to start? Try these creative writing prompts.

5. Get a library card and read, read, read. Every great book is a portal — to adventure, to knowledge, or to new perspectives. Libraries make it easy for you to follow your curiosity and stay creative. If you don’t yet have a library card, now’s the time to get one. Not sure what to read? Try something from the world’s required reading list.

Laura McClure is the TED-Ed Editor. To learn something new every week, sign up for the TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog