STEM Jobs is adding to last year’s list of TED Talks to show in your classroom!

Since our 2015 list of TED Talks You Should Show in Your Classroom was published, we’ve discussed how students can follow career paths in animation, marine biology, and renewable energy. Regardless of how closely related – or seemingly distant – from STEM some careers might appear, we have also discovered that science, technology, engineering, and math play a part in nearly any career path imaginable if we simply look hard enough. Share the following TED Talks with your students to inspire and ignite their STEM interest.

1. The Magic Ingredient that Brings Pixar Movies to Life

TED Talks

Photo Credit: Vault Disney

Sharing how she channeled her computer science education into her childhood dream of becoming an artist, Pixar Animation Studio’s Director of Photography Danielle Feinberg uses examples from the company’s favorites, such as “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E,” to illustrate the depth behind her fantastic creations. Using light, she ties together the stories of Pixars animated characters, but through coding, Feinberg creates different degrees of illumination to realistically convey the tale of each movie. In this November 2015 TED Talk Feinberg reveals, “We use science to create something wonderful. We use story and artistic touch to get us to a place of wonder.”

2. Yup, I Built A Nuclear Fusion Reactor

TED TalksAt the age of 14, Taylor Wilson was the youngest person in history to build a nuclear fusion reactor, a project that he started in 2006 at the age of 12. During one of his TED Talks, which was recorded in 2012, he discusses the processes of and reasons for his work. Concerned about the future of energy sources, the environment, and humankind, Wilson explores how we can utilize nuclear energy to replace the world’s current dependence on limited fossil fuels. Wilson continues to work as a nuclear physicist and encourages young people to follow in his footsteps.

3. Glow in the Dark Sharks and Other Stunning Sea Creatures

TED Talks

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

As a marine biologist and photographer with National Geographic, David Gruber maintains a deep understanding of the sea’s ecosystems and the ocean’s relationship with light. In his TED Talk, Gruber explains how biofluorescence has facilitated the discovery of the previously unknown true appearance and vision of sea creatures. From Kaupichphys eels that appear primarily to mate under the full moonlight, to green florescent bream, which has – as Gruber describes – “…racing stripes along its head and its nape…” his team explores the biofluorescence of sea life and further examines its effect on humans.

4. The Untapped Genius that Could Change Science for the Better

TED TalksThrough tying together her role of studying celestial bodies with the “…intersections that have special meaning to us,” astrophysicist Jedidah Isler relates her career to the scarcity of women of color in her field. Battling financial, racial, and gender-based roadblocks, Jeddidah embarked upon the path toward a doctorate in physics. Earning her Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Yale, she became the first black woman in the school’s history to be awarded this degree. Using TED Talks as her platform in August 2015, she reveals the hardships faced by women of color in STEM – barriers not faced by people whom she says are “just women or just people of color” pursuing these careers.

5. The Inside Story of the Paris Climate Agreement

TED TalksThe Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres reveals the key to how she led the Paris climate conference (COP21), which took place in December 2015. Comprising 195 countries, the conference resulted in a successful collaboration between all participants, much to the surprise of many – including Figueres. Through changing the perspective of her own worldview, she became determined to save the Earth. In one of the most important environmental TED Talks of 2016, Figures reveals that only through developing a sense of optimism for her task to save the worl, was she able to generate a plan to bring together global leaders to lead the charge by addressing climate change.

Students’ success depends on how they are able to relate to the topics they are learning. Engage students with these TED Talks to show in your classroom and increase how they connect with the world around them.

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