Category Archives: TED talks

How NOT to be ignorant about the World: Hans & Ola Rosling

Another great Hans Rosling TED Talk, this time with his son, Ola. Here Dealing with misconceptions, bias, ignorance of global issues and a little formative assessment, they discuss how we can be better informed about the world, with a fact-based world view… and how we could (eventually) perform better than chimps on a global issues quiz.

This would make a great provocation for a TOK unit, or one in Geography or a Global Issues group. In our field of international education it might be useful for parent and teacher training, considering why we need to educate for global understanding, not just for disciplinary knowledge. Through a fact-based world view, we can develop truly internationally-minded, globally-engaged young inquirers, who recognise their biases and know how to learn more about the truths of the world we live in now and into the future.

I love the suggestion they have of a “global knowledge certificate” for agencies, schools and employers that is based on candidates taking a test on the fact-based world view. You read about the ignorance project here on CNN, or find more classroom resources (including a world-view card game) on Gapminder’s education page. The Guardian also has a selection of global development quizzes, which you can take for fun or in class.

PCR Song: Class Project & TED Ed Lesson

This song by BioRad is a funny discussion starter on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and biotechnology. For a full lesson plan, with editable slides for students and a complete TED Ed lesson (with quiz), visit the full page.

Click to go to the TED-Ed lesson on PCR.

Click to go to the TED-Ed lesson on PCR.

Ed Yong’s TED Talk: Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales

“Are there any parasites that are influencing our behaviour without us knowing it?”

When I started this blog back in 2007, Ed Yong was a fledgling science writer gaining an audience with his Not Exactly Rocket Science wordpress blog; clear and engaging online articles that opened up primary research to a wider audience. You’ll find many links to his writing throughout this site, connecting the concepts of the IB Biology course to current science and ‘the wow beat’. He has since had a book and is resident at NatGeo’s Phenomena Salon, after moving through Science Blogs and Discover.

He continues to inspire me as a writer and this week he gave his TED Talk, a funny and fact-packed tour of the sinister side of parasites. Enjoy! You will even be able to find some links out to further reading and references.

If you don’t already, you should subscribe to the Phenomena blogs, and if you’re a teacher or student whose schedule are as packed a mine, I highly recommend Ed’s weekly ‘Missing Links‘ roundup of science news and writing – they make for my Sunday morning reading!

Niches for Species: How Wolves Change Rivers

This video is an excerpt from George Monbiot’s recent TED Talk (posted here a while back), and really sets up the imagery of an ecosystem as it responds to change. A great clip, well suited to starting off the Ecology units.

Niches for Species: George Monbiot’s TED Talk on Rewilding.

This TED Talk from Guardian environment writer George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) makes a compelling argument for rewilding: putting back what we have taken from nature, letting the ecosystems do what they will and allowing the megafauna to re-reshape the ecosystem.

“It offers us the hope that our silent spring can be replaced by a raucous summer.”

The connections across the curriculum here are clear, most notably to 5.1 Ecosystems and HL Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity. Well worth 15 minutes and could be the stimulus for class discussion.

Remaining Ethical in the Search for a Cure for HIV [TED Talk]

This is an interesting discussion starter and is only 11 minutes long. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji talks about the ethical dilemmas of HIV research in developing countries. What happens when the trial ends?

Some discussion ideas:

  • Discuss the pros/ cons of testing pharmaceuticals in the developing world vs the ‘west’.
    • Authorisation of trials
    • Risk of litigation
    • Willingness of populations to participate
    • Potential sample size
    • Ethics vs efficiency in data generation
    • Cost-benefit ratio
  • Outline what is meant by ‘informed consent’ in terms of clinical trials. Discuss the challenges of informed consent in trials in the developing world.
  • Evaluate the suggestions Boghuma Kabisen Titanji makes about:
    • Informed consent
    • Standard of care provided to participants
    • Ethical review of research
    • Exit plan – what happens to participants once the trial has ended?

 

Ben Goldacre: What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe [TED Talk]

Here’s Dr. Ben Goldacre of Bad Science giving his TED Talk, which is an eye-opener into what happens in academic research and drug testing. A good link with TOK here:

  • How do research groups and journals decide what to publish – what is publication bias?
  • What are the consequences of not publishing negative results?
  • To what extent does publication bias affect other academic disciplines?

This is a really interesting dilemma. Evidence-based medicine works, that’s why it is called ‘medicine’. Sometimes publication bias leads into misrepresentation of data and drugs get approved. But it’s not the same as promoting pseudoscience – ‘fake’ medicines which we know do not work and are supported by no peer-reviewed, controlled evidence.

 

Growing Green in the South Bronx

Stephen Ritz gives a hugely energetic TEDx talk about his class project with at-risk kids in New York’s Bronx, which went quickly from green walls to something much bigger. It really is amazing. See if you can keep up!

15 year-old develops effective, cheap test for pancreatic cancer [TED Audition]

Wow. Here’s Jack Andraka’s TED Audition for a talk on his work developing a carbon nanotube and antibody-based test for pancreatic cancer.

Jack won the 2012 Gordon E. Moore Award ($75,000) at the Intel International* Science and Engineering Fair for the same work:

Read more about him, his work and the work he built it on here on Forbes.com.

*Yup – you can have a go too.

E.O. Wilson’s Letter to Young Scientists [TED Talk]

This is a great motivational address to young scientists the world over. Living legend EO Wilson gives his words of advice to the problem-solvers of tomorrow: you guys.

“The thirst for knowledge is in our genes; it was put there by our distant ancestors and it’s never going to be quenched.” 

EO Wilson

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