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

TED-Ed Blog istock illo creative resolution

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 http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/06/13/5-simple-ways-to-stay-creative-when-youre-off-from-school/

Animation basics: What is rotoscoping?

Rotoscoping is, in essence, a technique that goes back to the early days of cinema, when animators would trace live action footage projected frame-by-frame onto paper, either to use as motion reference or directly copy into their work. Here are two examples:

At TED2017, the TED-Ed animation team taught attendees how to make rotoscoped animation, using the TED Talk intro sequence as our inspiration. Attendees used paint, clay, whiteboards, coffee grinds, map tacks, paper, and yarn to reimagine the TED logo. For software, we used iStopMotion. Here’s the end result:

How we developed this animation workshop: Our challenge was to come up with something that would allow people to experiment and have fun within a short time frame, but still wind up with some sort of coherent end product. Thinking about past examples of this sort of undertaking, the animated MTV logo came to mind. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, a dense roster of animators and filmmakers created 30-second promotional bumpers for the network, using a countless variety of approaches and techniques, all riffing off of and landing on the iconic MTV logo at the end of each visual romp.

Taking inspiration from this era of experimental popular culture, we thought it would be fun to have workshop participants remix the 10-second TED intro title sequence animation, using a variety of materials and frame-by-frame animation techniques on tabletop stop-motion setups. And in order to maximize the time we had with people, many of whom likely had very little prior experience with animation, we decided to have them rotoscope the TED intro. For our purposes, we had the TED intro sequence pre-loaded into the stop-motion software we were using to capture frames. This enabled us to superimpose the sequence over the camera feed on the screen as participants animated, so they could visually refer to it frame-by-frame as they went. We prepared a short reel of examples of work created with the techniques and materials we were about to employ, and then turned our participants loose, encouraging them to experiment and diverge from the reference material if they so desired.

Here are a few of the methods, materials, and references we shared:

Ready to try out some animation techniques at home? Making animation at home does not require a lot of expensive equipment, software, or know-how. Here are our recommendations:

1. Use your phone or your tablet. ($) You’ll need to get a stop-motion animation app, like one of these (Free – $10):

For best results, you’ll also need to stabilize your phone or tablet using a phone stand, a tripod attachment, or a DIY phone stand:

2. Use a digital camera attached to animation software. ($$$) Similar to our set-up in the TED2017 workshop, you’ll need to get a stop-motion animation software** like one of these ($40 – $300):

**Be sure to check that your camera is supported by the above software options!**

You will also need a tripod to stabilize your camera. Any tripod will do. Here are two lightweight, very reasonably priced options available on Amazon and elsewhere: Sony VCT-R100 / Magnus PV-3400. Of course, the heavier duty the tripod, the more stable your set-up will be! Check the specs to be sure that the tripod you choose can support the weight of your camera.

3. Use your digital camera to take photographs and edit them together later. Animation is simply a sequence of photos, so it’s not necessary to purchase a tablet or software in order to make animation, if you have access to video editing software. As long as you have a tripod to stabilize your camera, and the patience to edit the photos into a sequence, you can always make animation this way!

To learn more, watch TED-Ed’s series of videos on ed.ted.com called ‘Animation Basics’. Some of these are behind the scenes on our animated lessons, and others are meant for first time animators. All of them are filled with animation #protips! We especially recommend: TED-Ed animators explain timing and spacing, and TED-Ed animators explain how to make pixilation animation, or ‘homemade special effects’. Happy animating!

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/05/31/animation-basics-what-is-rotoscoping/

6 ways to use TED-Ed Clubs in and out of school


Think TED-Ed Clubs only operate during school hours? Think again. TED-Ed Clubs come in all shapes and sizes. From the classroom, to the internet, and everything in between, here are 6 unique ways to use the TED-Ed Clubs model:

1. Host your Club at a local library
Clubs don’t necessarily have to meet at a school. Seek out community organizations like your local library to host your Club. Aimee Vann of the Ouray Public Library in Colorado adopted TED-Ed Clubs in her library’s public programming, and it’s thrived ever since. “The library setting is great because all of the library resources are at a student’s fingertips,” says Vann. “Students are not only learning about their TED topic, they are learning important library literacy skills they will be able to use in the future.”

2. Turn your passion for theater into a Club
If your school has a theater program, why not use the Clubs curriculum to supplement it? That’s what theater teacher Isabel Moraes did with her students in Casablanca, Morocco. Isabel’s theater students were very interested in learning about public speaking and body awareness. Isabel also wanted to find a way to show her students that they can make an impact in the world — so when she found TED-Ed Clubs, it was a perfect fit for her class. As a Club Leader, she tailored the Clubs program to complement her students’ passion for theater: “We focus a lot on stage presence, purposeful gestures on stage, and audience involvement,” says Isabel. Now that students are structuring their talks, “we are also discussing the similarities to play scripts and how we can use elements of drama to make a talk even more effective,” she adds.

3. Lead a virtual Club for homeschooled students
Believe it or not, not every Club meets face-to-face. You can run a TED-Ed Club right from your computer. For example, School of the Minds TED-Ed Club allows homeschooled students from all over the country to come together and discuss their ideas. Led by Carissa Leventis-Cox, School of the Minds is one of several virtual TED-Ed Clubs. Currently there are a number of active Club Members in School of the Minds, including kids from California, Illinois, New Jersey, Nebraska and South Carolina. How do they communicate? “Facebook with the students, via posts, comments, and videos,” Carissa explains. She adds: “I like the video component because students start to feel comfortable being in front of a camera.”

4. Try a student mentoring structure in your Club
Try implementing a mentoring structure with your Club that allows students to learn from each other. In this model, older students are able to develop key leadership skills, while younger students go through the TED-ED Clubs curriculum with the support of more experienced students. “The older students in the club serve as group leaders when the students split up into smaller groups to discuss the talks,” says Club Leader Erin Tarr of Champaign, Illinois, who combined her TED-Ed Club with Be the Benchmark, a teen mentoring club. “These smaller groups then form a stronger bond, and are also encouraged to share their high/lows of the week and keep the mentors informed about the details of their life.”

5. Start a Club to improve your English skills
Is English your second language? Start a TED-Ed Club to practice English while developing and sharing your ideas. Many English language schools have integrated the Clubs program into their studies to sharpen their language skills. For example, Bojana Golubovic of Nis, Serbia leads The American Corner Nis TED-Ed Club. “Students have their explorations in English, as well as preparing and giving speeches. English is a language they learn at school, two days a week,” says Bojana. “With TED-Ed Clubs workshops, they are developing speaking and writing skills in non-native language. They are also learning about American culture and how to appreciate cultural perspectives through language.”

6. Organize a community TEDx event with your Club
Suzan Brandt, a technology specialist at Mountain Brook Junior High in Birmingham, Alabama, took her Club to the next level by starting a TEDx event in the community. She’s taken the TED-Ed Clubs program and turned it into a pipeline for students preparing to present talks at their local TEDx event. “Our goal of the MBJH TED-Ed Club is for everyone to submit a TED-Ed talk and be ready to present at TEDxYouth@MBJH. In addition to TED-Ed Club members serving as speakers, we have invited other youth from neighboring schools to speak as well. We include adult speakers who are from our community or who have an idea to share that will benefit the audience, which includes youth, families, and community members.”

Ready to start your own TED-Ed Club? Apply here today!

Author bio: Victoria Tripsas is an intern at TED-Ed. Art credit: iStock.

To get brand new TED-Ed Lessons delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the free TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/05/24/6-ways-to-use-ted-ed-clubs-in-and-out-of-school/

Why do we knock on wood?


Chances are you’ve knocked on wood in the past month. But, really, why? Here’s one origin story:

Knocking on wood is thought to come from the folklore of the ancient Indo-Europeans, or possibly people who predated them, who believed that trees were home to various spirits.


Touching a tree would invoke the protection or blessing of the spirit within.


Somehow, this tradition has survived long after belief in these spirits had faded away.

To learn more about superstitions, watch this TED-Ed Lesson: Where do superstitions come from?

Art credit: TED-Ed/@jefflebars

To get brand new TED-Ed Lessons delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the free TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/05/18/why-do-we-knock-on-wood/

4 TED-Ed Lessons about mental health


Depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, narcissism — these medical conditions impact millions of people around the world, yet are often misunderstood. How much do you know about the symptoms and treatments? Want to learn more about how to support a friend in need? In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, watch these 4 TED-Ed Lessons:

1. What is depression?

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world; in the United States, close to ten percent of adults struggle with the disease. But because it’s a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol. Helen M. Farrell examines the symptoms and treatments of depression, and gives some tips for how you might help a friend who is suffering. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

2. What is bipolar disorder?

The word bipolar means ‘two extremes.’ For the many millions experiencing bipolar disorder around the world, life is split between two different realities: elation and depression. So what causes this disorder? And can it be treated? Helen M. Farrell describes the root causes and treatments for bipolar disorder. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

3. Debunking the myths of OCD

There’s a common misconception that if you like to meticulously organize your things, keep your hands clean, or plan out your weekend to the last detail, you might be OCD. In fact, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a serious psychiatric condition that is frequently misunderstood by society and mental health professionals alike. Natascha M. Santos debunks the myths surrounding OCD.
Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

4. The psychology of narcissism

Narcissism isn’t just a personality type that shows up in advice columns; it’s actually a set of traits classified and studied by psychologists. But what causes it? And can narcissists improve on their negative traits? W. Keith Campbell describes the psychology behind the elevated and sometimes detrimental self-involvement of narcissists. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

To get brand new TED-Ed Lessons delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the free TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/05/17/4-ted-ed-lessons-about-mental-health/