North Allegheny Students Prepare TED Talks with New Club

New club gives students a forum to share their passions.

As a ninth and tenth grade English teacher at North Allegheny Intermediate High School, Zack Hull says he was used to reading about students' passions in various written assignments.

"Unfortunately, it always seemed like the student was just writing for an audience of one, the teacher," Hull said. "I wanted to make it real, to give them a bigger audience."

That's the central idea behind a newly formed TED Talk Club at North Allegheny. Hull says he wants students to be able to share their passions and provide a conversation starter for their community.

"If we can get people to understand these topics, to understand the nuance of arguments, then I think that could be transformative," Hull said.

TED (which stands for Technology, Education and Design) is a non-profit organization founded in 1984, with the mission of spreading ideas. Through conferences and thousands of "TED Talks," the organization says it is "building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers." The speeches can be anywhere from five to 20 minutes long and topics cover an incredibly wide range of fields. That includes management in business, Shakespeare, the future of artificial intelligence, and the fight to end childhood poverty--and that's just on the first page of the website's library!

At NA, the TED Talk Club has already attracted nearly 40 students, including an eight grader and several graduates. Hull says is the first two meetings, students began brainstorming topics and came up with a list of rules or guidelines for their speeches.

"The topic can be humorous or serious, it can focus on innovation or involved multimedia," Hull said.

"But it has to be something you know inside it out. You have to be able to take something people know nothing about and make it completely compelling."

That's not an easy task, but Hull believes his students are up to the challenge. One of the club's goals is holding an event or showcase at some point this spring, with plans to film and edit the most compelling Talks and submit them to TED where they could be potentially published on the organization's website.

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