Modern day pen pals: TED-Ed Club virtual meet and greet


Five students in Hilliard, Ohio squeeze together  in front of a camera phone during a mid-morning break. About 6,000 miles away, the sun has already gone down in Nicosia, Cyprus, as another group of students similarly gather in front of a projection screen. As the two schools connect with one another, they make a few quick introductions before plunging into the topic at hand — their big ideas.

This conversation was part of the first TED-Ed Club meet and greet in which two TED-Ed Clubs — Hilliard Weaver Middle School’s club in Ohio and ESL Creative Learning’s club in Cyprus — met each other for the first time over video conference. TED-Ed hosted the meet and greet, which explored the two schools’ motivations for starting their clubs, the topics they’re most excited about right now, and the fears assigned to public speaking.

Why did you start a TED-Ed Club?

Hilliard Weaver Middle School’s TED-Ed Club:

“We saw the promo video, and not even a day later, we decided that this was an area of need in our school. We didn’t have something like this. There’s a speaking competition, and a couple of these guys are in it and did very well, but there’s not an area that promotes public speaking skills and presentation skills and really allows kids to explore whatever it is they want.”

ESL Creative Learning’s TED-Ed Club:

“We’ve been using TED-Ed videos and TED Talks regularly in class, and I believe that it will take their presentation skills to the next level — especially for the younger students. I also think it will help because we’re a school where English is a second language, and that’s another burden for us. We have to do the [presentations] using English as a main language, and that’s already a challenge for the students. This is another way for them to learn the language and use it in a meaningful way and motivating way.”


What are your favorite ideas right now?

Hilliard Weaver Middle School’s TED-Ed Club:

“My idea is depression in young children because I struggled with it, so I thought it would be a good idea to take from personal reference to actually talk about it because a lot of people don’t, and I don’t know why.”

“I have like 15 ideas, but I can’t remember them all!”

“My topic would be about the Earth.  Like making the environment better and stuff.”

“I do a lot of magic and that kind of stuff, so maybe talking about that to some degree.”

“Now I gotta tell you, Justin now wants to do coding, but we’ve been talking for two weeks about how Justin really wants to do world domination.”

“We have another student who isn’t here right now — her focus is on tennis — and she wanted to focus not just on how to play the game, but how the pieces and parts make the person successful at the game; the science behind the game.”

ESL Creative Learning’s TED-Ed Club:

“We have an idea about bicycles and the mechanics behind it.”

“Basically, what I thought was I could do a presentation on music where it’s just the normal thing in normal teenager’s ideas. And TV shows. The history of music because everyone likes music, everyone listens to music every single day. It’s just a fact.”

“I’m brainstorming. I’d like my talk to be funny, and so I thought about comparing humans to animals and how they’re so similar. We so often think that we’re not similar, but this is false. We’re animals, so we have the instinct of animals. Many people don’t realize it.”

“Some of the other student’s ideas: we’ve got dancing, we’ve got rock music, we’ve got the USA.”

What are you nervous about?

ESL Creative Learning’s TED-Ed Club:

“Speaking out loud.”

“Finding our ideas. That’s the challenge for the first meeting.”

“Presenting and how to make a successful presentation.”

Hilliard Weaver Middle School’s TED-Ed Club:

Stage fright. That’s something that one of our students is looking forward to overcoming by doing this.”

“One challenge might be narrowing down a lot of topics into one topic.”


Before we wrapped up the call, we came back to the student with too many ideas to count (15!) and asked if he could share a few.

“Number one is helping older people learn basic computer skills. My great-aunt lives in Seattle, and she just got a computer and I help her with that.

Number two is coding.

Number three is diving. I dive, and a lot of people say it’s just pretty, but it’s really hard.

Number four is connecting other places to Internet and power.

Number six is how you try what you want to do as a career.”

Interested in starting your own TED-Ed Club? Find out more information here.


  1. chandrakant kulkarni

    A great idea!
    I remember my ‘pen friendship’ days (1960-1970): when I had to write letters and post them to my pen friends..then expecting the replies that took many many days to reach me.
    I am so much inspired to form such a pen pals group for children around me!

  2. john flash stephen

    i am an african and contemporary dance teacher,wants to keep in touch for possible future opportunities for a project.

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