Another Burlington High School First: The TED-Ed Club Pilot

This fall, Burlington High School, along with approximately 100 other schools throughout the world, had the opportunity to pilot a TED-Ed Club. I had the privilege to serve as the facilitator of this club and was able to work with five exceptional Burlington High School students. The TED-Ed Club pilot members for the fall of 2013 were Nikhil Thakkar, Manas Purohit, Ansh Bhammar, Daniel Pais, and TJ Horgan.

Over the past ten weeks, my students and I met every Monday (sometimes after school and sometimes during lunch) and discussed ideas for their talks, how to structure the presentation, and the types of visuals needed to enhance the presentation. For further guidance and inspiration, we also watched, analyzed, and critiqued several talks throughout the pilot experience; our favorite and a must watch was Reggie Watts’s “Beats that Defy Boxes.”

The Burlington High School “TED-Ed pioneers” as I like to call them, were truly amazing. Each student came into the pilot experience with an idea he was already passionate about. During meetings, my students would ask each other challenging questions, discuss complex topics, and offer support and encouragement to one another as the deadline to deliver their presentations approached. Often times I simply stood by in awe as I listened to my club members delve into deep discussions about science, medicine, politics, education, and technology. Now that the pilot has ended, I can’t help but feel lucky and incredibly proud to have been a part of this experience. All of us in education strive to help our students become independent, critical thinkers. We work towards helping our students find that spark that prompts them to learn for the sake of learning. Fortunately, as the facilitator of this club, I was able to witness all of these things. And it was not in a classroom. The students involved didn’t receive a grade. They participated in this pilot and devoted many hours to prepare for their presentations simply because they wanted to. My students stayed after school on a Monday until 5:00 p.m. delivering their presentations to each other (there was no audience other than me) and did several takes until they got it “just right.” They channeled their energy and gave some of the best student presentations I have ever seen. Perhaps I am a bit biased because I know how much time, thought, and effort my students put into their presentations, however I’m confident you’ll agree with my sentiments after watching each presentation.

I am proud to share the presentations of my students and I hope you will take the time to leave comments and congratulate them on their success.

Nikhil Thakkar

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Junior Nikhil Thakkar’s presentation “focuses on the relative definition of the word “best,” and its relation to standardized testing and the implications these respective examinations have on students today.” Nikhil chose to be part of the Ted-Ed club because of his love for public speaking. Nikhil went on to say, “…having given numerous talks through previous TEDx Madrid events, I was very excited to further my work with TED in my hometown of Burlington. I have had so many exciting moments with TED and to have the opportunity to create more right in my own high school is exciting.”

TJ Horgan

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Junior TJ Horgan’s presentation, “Taking Back Our Democracy,” discusses how “big banks and corporations control our democracy through the thirst for money among politicians. Politicians cater their policy to the likings of their biggest donors, and will keep doing that, purely to achieve reelection. My talk is explaining this and making people aware of what is occurring. Also, I hope to change this.” TJ decided to be a part of TED-Ed pilot “because I enjoy public speaking and my topic is one about which I am passionate.” TJ went on to say, “I am most excited about surprising the people who see it and assume high school students aren’t politically knowlegable or active.”

Daniel Pais

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Junior Daniel Pais’s presentation, “Autonomous Cars: Yay or Nay?” focused on vehicles of the future. “I am very excited to give my talk on Monday because I want to share my thoughts on future vehicles. I’ll admit, I love cars with a passion, and once I heard about autonomous vehicles coming soon, I was pretty skeptical. Although I’m not 100% sold on them yet, after doing research for my talk, I see the vast array of benefits (and few drawbacks) that autonomous vehicles bring. I am very excited to share both the pros and cons at my talk on Monday! And I must say, the TED-Ed Club (that we piloted this fall) is one of the best clubs at BHS by far!”

Manas Purohit

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Junior Manas Purohit’s presentation, “The Future Energy Source,” discusses matter and antimatter and proposes a theoretical model to create alternative sources of energy. Manas is passionate about science and through his talk it shows! Manas had the opportunity to speak with members of the TED-Ed Club organization (as seen in the picture to the right) and was able to explain the premise of his idea, as well as his enthusiasm for the club. Manas was able to further develop his public speaking skills through being involved in the pilot and he is already talking about an idea for a future presentation!

Ansh Bhammar

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Junior Ansh Bhammar’s talk, “Antibiotic Resistance: the End of the Antibiotic Era?” discusses the ability of bacteria to survive even after being introduced to antibiotics. Ansh points out there are over two million illnesses related to antibiotic resistance and that 23,000 deaths have occurred in the U.S. as a result of antibiotic resistance. Clearly, Ansh has a passion for medicine and science and plans to have a future career in medicine. Like Manas, Ansh also had the chance to speak directly with the organizers of the TED-Ed Club pilot and was able to share his experience as a member of the pilot group.
Again, I am so proud to showcase the work of my TED-Ed Club pioneers. We were all thrilled to be selected to pilot this club and it was certainly one of the highlights of my first semester at Burlington High School.
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