This Year’s 10 Best TED Talks To Share With Students

In honor of a recent TED Live announcement, I thought it’d be a good idea to remind you why TED rocks. Below is just a small fraction of the amazing presentations put on by the folks over at TED. Each one of the presentations embedded below is perfect for sharing with students and showing in class*. Heck, assigning the viewing of these TED talks as homework isn’t a bad idea.

Do you use TED in the classroom? I’d love to hear about it if you did and I know the rest of the Edudemic community would too! Let everyone know about it in the comments.

*There are of course many more presentations but I picked these because I thought they resonated with me and would do the same with students.

Philip Zimbardo: The Demise of Guys?

Philip Zimbardo was the leader of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment — and an expert witness at Abu Ghraib. Psychologist Philip Zimbardo asks, “Why are boys struggling?” He shares some stats (lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships) and suggests a few reasons — and challenges the TED community to think about solutions.

Pavan Sukhdev: Put A Value On Nature!

A banker by training, Pavan Sukhdev runs the numbers on greening up — showing that green economies are an effective engine for creating jobs and creating wealth. Every day, we use materials from the earth without thinking, for free. But what if we had to pay for their true value: would it make us more careful about what we use and what we waste? Think of Pavan Sukhdev as nature’s banker — assessing the value of the Earth’s assets.

Annie Murphy Paul: What We Learn Before We’re Born

Pop quiz: When does learning begin? Answer: Before we are born. Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb — from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods. Annie Murphy Paul investigates how life in the womb shapes who we become.

Joe Sabia: The Technology of Storytelling

Joe Sabia investigates new ways to tell stories — meshing viral video and new display technologies with old-fashioned narrative. iPad storyteller Joe Sabia introduces us to Lothar Meggendorfer, who created a bold technology for storytelling: the pop-up book. Sabia shows how new technology has always helped us tell our own stories, from the walls of caves to his own onstage iPad.

Allan Jones: A Map of the Brain

As CEO of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Allan Jones leads an ambitious project to build an open, online, interactive atlas of the human brain. How can we begin to understand the way the brain works? The same way we begin to understand a city: by making a map. In this visually stunning talk, Allan Jones shows how his team is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region, and how it all connects up.

Yves Rossy: Fly With the Jetman

With a jet-powered wing attached to his body, Yves Rossy expands the possibilities of human flight. Strapped to a jet-powered wing, Yves Rossy is the Jetman — flying free, his body as the rudder, above the Swiss Alps and the Grand Canyon. After a powerful short film shows how it works, Rossy takes the TEDGlobal stage to share the experience and thrill of flying.

Ben Kacyra: Ancient Wonders Captured in 3D

Ben Kacyra uses state-of-the-art technology to preserve cultural heritage sites and let us in on their secrets in a way never before possible. Ancient monuments give us clues to astonishing past civilizations — but they’re under threat from pollution, war, neglect. Ben Kacyra, who invented a groundbreaking 3D scanning system, is using his invention to scan and preserve the world’s heritage in archival detail. (Watch to the end for a little demo.)

Jay Bradner: Open-Source Cancer Research

In his lab, Jay Bradner, a researcher at Harvard and Dana Farber in Boston, works on a breakthrough approach for subverting cancer .. and he’s giving the secret away. How does cancer know it’s cancer? At Jay Bradner’s lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, JQ1 — and instead of patenting JQ1, they published their findings and mailed samples to 40 other labs to work on. An inspiring look at the open-source future of medical research.

Todd Kuiken: A Prosthetic Arm That “Feels”

A doctor and engineer, Todd Kuiken builds new prosthetics that connect with the human nervous system. Yes: bionics. Physiatrist and engineer Todd Kuiken is building a prosthetic arm that connects with the human nervous system — improving motion, control and even feeling. Onstage, patient Amanda Kitts helps demonstrate this next-gen robotic arm.

Pamela Meyer: How to Spot a Liar

Pamela Meyer thinks we’re facing a pandemic of deception, but she’s arming people with tools that can help take back the truth. On any given day we’re lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lie can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and “hotspots” used by those trained to recognize deception — and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.