Your dystopian beach reading list

Maybe your beach vacation is more rocky coastline than sandy paradise. Maybe happy endings just aren’t your thing. Whatever the reason, fear not: the books below will let you stay gloomy, if you like. [Note: several of these books are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free, here.] Behold, your dystopian beach reading list:

1. 1984 by George Orwell
Published in 1949, George Orwell’s bleak dream of a future 1984 depicted a UK (“Oceania”) in which war was perpetual, facts were negotiable, and Big Brother was always watching. Bonus fact: Throughout the writing of this novel, his last, Orwell was extremely ill and often in physical pain. Nevertheless, he finished writing the book, and now we have the word Orwellian, in addition to these Orwellian gifts to the English language: Big Brother, doublethink, memory hole, Newspeak, telescreen, thought police — and more.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Set in the near future, near Boston, Margaret Atwood’s work of “social science fiction” portrays a US in which the Constitution has been overthrown by a religious sect that enslaves women.

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Who preserves the human spirit in a highly technologically advanced world? Who gets to decide what humanity “should” think or feel? Brave New World is a philosophical cautionary tale about genetic selection, economic inequality, and pharmaceutical solutions to moral despair.

4. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Technology and climate change mix with romance and resilience in this award-winning YA novel, published in 2016. Recommended by film and culture writer Sheerly Avni, “this is the book you give to your friend who agrees that It’s the End of the World As We Know It, but still wants to Feel Fine.”

To find out why dystopian novels have been popular for centuries, and to learn how to recognize a dystopia, watch this TED-Ed Lesson.

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Art credit: TED-Ed.

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TED-Ed Weekend: a student’s perspective


Sophie Hayssen is a student from New York City and an intern at Clover Letter. After attending TED-Ed Weekend, she wrote about the event. Read Sophie’s letter below:

After years of watching TED videos, I have accumulated many favorite talks whose lessons have stuck with me and changed the way I perceived the world. However, at TED-Ed Weekend, the experience of seeing TED Talks live and by people my own age was more visceral and inspiring than anything I had seen onscreen. In our second workshop of the day, my group was asked to describe what TED meant to them. As one of the few attendees who was not a member of a TED-Ed Club, the Saturday conference was the only experience I had with TED IRL. I thought about the answer to my workshop leader’s question, and asked myself why those morning talks had moved me so much.

I am exposed to ideas daily from interactions with teachers, parents, friends; but what makes some forms of communication more meaningful than others? The best answer I could come up with was that while many of us young people have interesting — or even world-changing — ideas, it can be challenging to express those ideas in ways that effectively reach other people. It’s hard to convey feeling through something as concrete and limited as language, but this is where most of the TED-Ed Weekend talks excelled. Because the talks were so carefully considered and geared toward the audience, I found myself getting excited about topics I had very little knowledge of, or didn’t even know existed before the conference. Even more impressive was how the topics ranged so widely from the importance of loving your natural hair to the benefits of solar energy.

In addition to TED’s power to help students articulate and organize their ideas, TED offers students a unique platform to share their stories. I’ve heard adult after adult complain, either in news articles or in person, about how the art of listening is lost on my generation, but the TED-Ed Clubs format flies in the face of that accusation. As I watched the talks, it was really refreshing to surrender my attention completely to the speaker and not have the pressure of having to respond immediately. Instead, I could just let the talk sink in and process it on my own. This relationship between the audience and the speaker defines the TED experience as both communal and personal. That is what TED means to me.

Author bio: Sophie Hayssen is a student from New York City and an intern at Clover Letter. When she’s not studying, she spends her time wandering aimlessly through bookstores and wasting away her youth watching Netflix. You can read more of her writing here.

via TED-Ed Blog

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

IP address correction

TED-Ed Blog computer illo Shutterstock

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

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

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

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Advice from TED-Ed Club Leaders


When Divyang Khandelwal started the first TED-Ed Club in his city, he asked for some do’s and don’ts from the experts: other TED-Ed Club Leaders! Here are a few of their tips for success:

Help Club Members uncover their ideas. “Take the time to make sure that everyone has an idea that they are truly passionate about, that is worth spreading, and that they will eventually be able to talk about for at least 2-3 minutes,” says Megan Lowe. [To help your Club Members strengthen their ideas, check out Megan’s TED-Ed Innovation Project:] “As much as public speaking is important, TED really is about spreading passions,” says Brindha Kodlapur.

Default to ‘you can’ instead of ‘you can’t’. “This club is all about letting students express their ideas and their passions,” says Mahrukh Bashir. “Don’t tell them ‘you can’t’ even if the idea is crazy, tell them ‘you can’ and you will see the magic.”

Try animating your talks. “TED-Ed provides an animation guidebook in the Club Leader resources, and it’s fun to try stop motion and other techniques,” says Aditi Puttur. “Our Club Members primarily made drawings or did stop motion. For example, instead of using Powerpoint slides for my talk, I sketched out images and projected them on a screen. Another student did a drawing time-lapse, which helped her to express her topic better. But you could also make pop-up books, use props, or do a demonstration while talking — really anything that adds variety and makes a talk more lively and interesting. Things like that can take talks to another level.”

Practice public speaking. Learning how to give a TED-style talk is just one of the benefits of joining a TED-Ed Club, notes Ridhima Behal Bharara in this blog post. To help alleviate the pressure of public speaking, Aditi Puttur recommends this great activity: “Give everyone random topics (peaches, going to Mars, education, crayons, etc… it can be serious or silly) and have them talk about their topic for 1 minute.”

Remember to collaborate, experiment, and have fun! The TED-Ed Clubs meeting format is flexible, and you can tailor it to meet the needs of your Club Members. For example, instead of working on talks individually during meetings, Kentaro T. Vadney plans to focus on being collaborative and sharing ideas. Each Club is unique, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

To learn more about TED-Ed Clubs, go here.

via TED-Ed Blog