Members of Falcon Early College High School’s TED-Ed Club will be presenting short talks on a variety of topics at 6 p.m. May 15 at the Library Lecture Hall at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Social Studies teacher Samantha Hardwick said 15 students are participating. Some are speaking together. Topics will range from artificial intelligence and stem cell research to gun control and Kendrick Lamar.

“TED-Ed makes us do everything in a cycle, so we have to do specific things every week; specific exercises. They’ve been working on their ideas since the beginning of February and I would say they started writing their speeches at the beginning of March,” Hardwick said.

When the cycle begins, she said the students talk about things they are interested in. They narrow it down to things they are passionate about, then things they are passionate about and OK talking about and then things they feel comfortable talking about and can write a speech about.

“So it’s a whole process,” Hardwick said.

The students have been rehearsing in their classroom and they’ve had to present in front of people to get critiques, but May 9 was the first time they stepped on stage at the library lecture hall.

“I think they’re going to be amazing,” Hardwick said. “I think they have to get over their nerves, but I think they’re going to do really well. Their speeches run anywhere from five minutes to nine minutes on the long end, but the rest are anywhere from five to nine minutes at the most.”

Haley Lavergne, a 16-year-old junior, Reuben Woods and Carlos Medellin, both 16-year-old sophomores, are covering embryonic stem cell research, fear and artificial intelligence, respectively.

Lavergne, who wants to go into the medical field, said she wrote a research paper about embryonic stem cell research and it interested her so much, she decided to write a speech about it so she could share it with more people.

Lavergne said her uncle is a quadriplegic and has had stem cell therapy.

“I’ve seen personally how much it works and I want to show other people that it is a promising therapy,” she said.

Woods said his presentation about fear is based on his own experience.

“I had a personal story I wanted to share and I realized that fear was really the heart of that story,” Woods said.

He added that everyone can relate to feeling frightened.

Medellin, whose presentation includes Easy Bake Oven overlords, said AI is something that fascinated him.

“… I’m a big fan of technology and it’s just constantly evolving. I thought, what is the point where it just changes beyond recognition?” Medellin said.

He used Easy-Bake Ovens because he was looking for examples of an appliance around his house and put one in with a refrigerator.

“But overall, I just like the Easy-Bake Oven because of the silliness and one wouldn’t expect it to do something crazy like that,” Medellin said.

In his presentation, he notes that artificial intelligence research goes back to the late 1950s, something that amazed him.

“I didn’t think that this kind of research was being done for such a long time. I was genuinely surprised when I found out. It helped me be more passionate about the topic,” Medellin said.

Like his peers, Medellin said he has found the club beneficial. Lavergne and Woods said it has helped them with public speaking, which they said is a useful skill to have as you enter college and future careers.

“… It seems like something that would help me decide on a career later on,” Medellin said.

Hardwick said plans are to continue the TED-Ed Club — and talks — next year.

“We’ll do this again in December. Then we’ll start another cycle in January and do it again in May. We have applied for five of our club members to go the TED-Ed event the weekend of Nov. 17 in New York City,” Hardwick said. “We should know at the end of May if we were accepted or not. If we are accepted, we will be doing massive fundraising because they don’t pay for anything.”

If You Go
  • What: TED-Ed Club talks.
  • When: 6 p.m. May 15.
  • Where: Library Lecture Hall, room 001 at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, 4901 E. University Blvd.
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