Top 10 STEAM TED Talks
Looking for some STEAM inspiration to expand your thinking and elevate your lesson plans? You’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 highly engaging TED Talks delivered by artists, scientists, teachers, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
1. Building blocks that blink, beep, and teach
Engineer and artist Ayah Bdeir talks about how she invented LittleBits, electronic building blocks that can teach kids all about science, technology, engineering, and design. The mission of LittleBits is powerful and inclusive: “we’re working to empower kids everywhere – regardless of gender, race, nationality, and ability – to solve the epic challenges ahead.” That’s a mission we can all support.
2. From STEM to STEAM
Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman talk about how they created the highly successful STEAM Carnival, a traveling high-tech event with interactive STEAM activities. To see what one of their STEAM Carnivals looks like, check out this video which highlights a three-day carnival that they put on in Los Angeles, attended by over 13,000 people!
3. Gever Tulley teaches life lessons through tinkering
In this brief but compelling talk, Gever Tulley talks about his innovative Tinkering School, which is clearly an example of STEAM in action. “Our goal is to make sure they leave with a better sense of how to make things than when they arrived, and the deep internal realization that you can figure things out by fooling around.”
4. How art, technology, and design inform creative leaders
Former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, John Maeda shares a lifetime of work in art, design, and technology in his engaging talk. And, fun fact: John Maeda delivered the keynote address at Concordia’s Governor Victor Atiyeh Leadership in Education Awards, and he is a huge proponent of STEAM education.
5. How I fell in love with quasars, blasars, and our incredible universe
Astrophysicist Jedidah Isler talks about her fascinating work researching supermassive hyperactive black holes. This brief talk touches on science and technology and could easily be used to spark students’ curiosity before diving into a STEAM lesson or project.
6. Mae Jemison on teaching arts and science together
Mae Jemison, a NASA astronaut, doctor, and engineer, talks about why science and the arts should be taught together. Jemison has worked in areas like reproductive biology, computer programming, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
7. Mathematics is the sense you never knew you had
High school mathematics teacher and YouTube star Eddie Woo talks about how mathematics connects to art, nature, and the way we perceive the world. Woo says mathematics is about “asking the right questions” and “forming new ways to solve problems by combining insight with imagination.”
8. Psychedelic science
Swiss artist and photographer Fabian Oefner creates captivating images that involve both the arts and the sciences. He uses watercolors, fire, soundwaves, and more to engage viewers in creative thinking. He encourages us to appreciate the simple, yet awe-inspiring beauty around us.
9. Twenty-five chemistry experiments in 15 minutes
Internationally acclaimed chemistry teacher Andrew Szydło impressively demonstrates 25 chemistry experiments in about 15 minutes. While this talk doesn’t directly address STEAM education, it does provide a host of opportunities to further explore each concept so that your students can use one of Szydlo’s experiments as an introduction to STEAM. As Szydlo says in his talk, “Chemistry plays a hugely important role in our everyday lives.”
10. What a scrapyard in Ghana can teach us about innovation
Designer and TED Fellow DK Osseo-Asare shares the work of urban miners who often teach themselves how electronics work by taking apart what they find in the scrapyard in Agbogbloshie, a community in Accra, Ghana. Osseo-Asare and his colleague collaborated with over 1,500 young people, 750 innovators from STEAM fields, and over 750 grassroots makers and scrap dealers from Agbogbloshie and beyond. Together, they created a platform called Spacecraft. It involves a makerspace kiosk, toolkits, and a trading app. This is STEAM and global innovation at its finest!