Education TED-Ed

Antibiotic resistance and particle physics: Burlington High School’s TED-Ed Club blinds us with science

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In a TED-Ed Club at Burlington High School in Vermont, students tended toward science topics for their TED-style talks. Photo: Jenn Scheffer

In a TED-Ed Club at Burlington High School in Massachusetts, students tackled big topics in their TED-style talks. Photo: Jenn Scheffer

“Using a powerful particle gun, we would shoot small pieces of matter through the force field and into the antimatter to make small, controlled bursts of energy –which we could then harness and put into batteries.”

This quote reads like a line of dialogue from a science fiction movie. But the (exponentially more exciting) truth is that it’s a snippet pulled from a TED-Ed Club final presentation given by Burlington High School junior Manas Purohit.

TED-Ed Clubs teach students how to research, write and deliver a TED-style talk on an idea that truly matters to them. The scope and depth of the topics that TED-Ed Club members choose  to explore is always amazing. But we were downright mind-boggled when we reviewed the big ideas of the students in the TED-ED Club at Burlington High School in Massachusetts. Their topics clustered around advanced science.

Purohit, one member of this five-person club, says that he was first drawn to the topic of matter and antimatter collision as an alternative energy source when he attended a lecture on the subject at MIT’s Splash program in November. Since he was already spending a lot of his free time on the web researching cosmology and particle physics, he decided to channel that research into a presentation of his own ideas about the topic. When asked about any challenges he faced in the process of creating his TED-ED Club presentation, he said, “I think the most challenging part was actually getting up there and presenting. Talking to a person one-on-one, I can articulate my ideas well, but in front of a large crowd or in front of a camera, it’s harder.”

[Huh. We thought the particle physics would have been the hard part. Watch Purohit’s presentation.]

Purohit’s classmate Ansh Bhammar also went the science route. Also a junior at BHS, Ansh has been interested in medicine for as long as he can remember, and his TED-Ed Club experience allowed him to delve deeper. For his final presentation, he narrowed his focus to antibiotic resistance, or how certain bacteria survive even after being exposed to antibiotics. He even came up with a four-step action plan (with accompanying acronym: DIPS) to prevent further resistance.

[Want to know what those letters in his acronym stand for? Check out Bhammar’s presentation.]

For Bhammar, the best part of the experience was being able to share his interest with others. “You should have passion for something. Find something you’re interested in,” he says. “Have a passion, because this is a rare opportunity to tell people what you think, especially when you’re 16 or 17 years old.”

Want to start your own TED-Ed Club and get those ideas firing in your own classroom? Fill out our application form here »