TEDxJohnLyonSchool has seen pupils, teachers and esteemed subject experts explore our Earth, its place in the universe, the beauty and power of our world, the landscapes and environments that shape our daily lives, the nations and tribes that label and define us, and solutions to some of the problems facing humanity.

Held at John Lyon on Thursday 17th October, 13 speakers including a 12-year-old-pupil, an expert on the Big Bang and a mountaineer who has stood on top of the world, talked with passion and positivity about how we can affect change to help the future of the Earth as well as to help us, the people who are lucky enough to call this Earth our home.

Seven John Lyon pupils were joined by three teachers and three other experts for TEDxJohnLyonSchool: astronomer Chris Crowe, mountaineer Matt Dickinson and interfaith and communications professional Zaki Cooper.

TEDx is an offshoot of the world-famous TED, created to be a programme of local, self-organised events that bring people together in the spirit of ‘ideas worth spreading’ to share a TED-like experience.

TEDx events, including TEDxJohnLyonSchool are held in front of a live audience, but also filmed and then hosted on the TED website and watched by many thousands of people across the globe.

All the talks from TEDxJohnLyonSchool can now be watch in full at www.ted.com/talks. They are also embedded below.


Dr Chris Crowe, Head of Astronomy, Harrow SchoolExtraterrestrials – why they’re almost certainly out there…
Chris Crowe is an astrophysicist, teacher, and public lecturer. A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, he works as Head of Astronomy at Harrow School, teaching Astronomy, Physics, Engineering and Computer Science. Chris received Masters’ degrees in both Theoretical Physics and Mathematics before completing a PhD in Astrophysics, affording him the opportunity to be part of a research team studying relic radiation from the big bang, and work in the same department as the late Professor Stephen Hawking.

Here, Chris guides us through the heavens on a journey to explore how many Earth-like planets our Universe contains. By examining the latest exoplanet discoveries he conveys his confidence that they’re definitely out there somewhere…

Jai Davison, Year 8 pupilIs the Earth doomed to die young?
Jai Davison was our youngest TEDx speaker at just 12. Having been head boy at his previous school Jai is no stranger to public speaking and in his first year at John Lyon he has participated in debate competitions, played an integral part in the lower school drama production of Emil and the Detectives, and helped his form to win the coveted Year 7 Drama Festival trophy.

Jai’s TEDx Talk is inspired by his own experiences, and his passion for comic books and space. Having witnessed a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center and fulfilled his aspiration to meet an astronaut, he has been inspired to reflect on how humans can use technology for good. He asks, can we help the Earth make it to old age? Or is it doomed to end aged only ’24’?

Varun Valentine, Year 10 pupilLet’s save the pollinators
Varun Valentine is in his first Year of GCSE studies at John Lyon. From the age of seven, Varun developed his interest in engineering, maths and medicine and he also has a passion for music, singing and playing the piano, cello and drums.

Varun talks about the important issue of pollinators and what we can do to save them, as he strongly believes that we should save the pollinators because their potential extinction could have terrible effects on our living planet.

Dr Morgan White, Head of Economics, John LyonEarth alienation, world alienation and the impossibility of education
Morgan White is the author of Towards a Political Theory of the University (2017) and was a tutor in Philosophy of Education at the University of Cambridge and a lecturer in Education at Liverpool Hope University. He received his PhD in political theory and public policy from the University of Manchester and has a particular interest in the public role of education, social justice, deliberative democracy and tensions with instrumental learning.

Morgan suggests that earth alienation and world alienation, concepts discussed by Hannah Arendt in her book The Human Condition (1958), are making education impossible. How can we fix it?

Tanvir Handa and Dhiren Mahajan, Year 9 and Year 10 pupilsSaving the Earth by saving ourselves
Tanvir Handa is a Year 9 pupil who has a great interest in architecture and cricket. An Indian-born Hindu raised in London, he is particularly passionate about cricket, a sport he has grown up watching and now plays to a high level in the School team. Tanvir loves to engage in numerous School events and is a member of the Excellence Society.

Dhiren Mahajan has just started his GCSE studies and will take exams in Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Geography and Spanish. Dhiren is a passionate and hardworking student and strives to achieve in everything he does.

Here, Dhiren and Tanvir suggest ways our quality of life on Earth could be improved, by reconsidering how we all use technology.

Mrs Maria Trafford, Teacher of English, John LyonFear of the flood
Maria Trafford is an English teacher, Excellence Team Leader, EPQ Coordinator and Oxbridge lead in the Sixth Form at John Lyon. She has a Master’s degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s in Theology and spent several years running childhood bereavement programmes for the NHS.

She asks us, why do we always focus on human concerns when we read stories? English teachers are great at pointing out inherent prejudices in a text when it comes to gender, race or class. But what about the Planet?

Husain Abedi, Upper Sixth student and Head BoyYes, we can!
Husain Abedi studies A-Level History, Economics and English Literature. With a rich heritage – an Indian-born Muslim raised in Hong Kong – Husain is especially interested in international relations, having already seen and heard many different beliefs and perceptions of the world that have all gone some way to creating the person he is today.

Can we do anything about the climate crisis? Husain believes yes, we can! Looking at simple and complex solutions for simple and complex problems he says we have the ability to tell the next generation that there is a tomorrow worth living for.

Mr Joshua Carr, Teacher of Chemistry, John LyonThe alchemic gold diggers
Joshua Carr is currently completing his Master’s degree in Chemistry at Imperial College London, and in his second year in the Chemistry Department at John Lyon. His specialism is catalysis, specifically turning renewable resources into commercially useful substances. His interests include writing and exploring historical developments of the world around us.

This talk sees Joshua discuss the history of Alchemy and its true legacy: a legacy that has great value in our modern times, but perhaps not for the reasons the original alchemists would have predicted.

Rishi Luthra, Upper Sixth studentOverpopulation is an underwater problem
Rishi Luthra studies Economics, English and French at A-Level and is a Charity Prefect. He has a keen interest in property development, especially residential real estate and wishes to pursue a career in this field after graduating university by joining his family business.

Here, Rishi highlights the issue of overpopulation in some areas of the Earth and, using his knowledge of  property development, discusses an unconventional (and very wet) potential solution to the problem.

Mr Matt Dickinson, author and explorerEverest: too high a price
Matt Dickinson is an explorer, mountaineer, filmmaker and author, best known for filming and writing about the world’s most famous mountain, Everest. During his filmmaking career he has worked as a director/cameraman for National Geographic television, the Discovery Channel, the BBC and Channel 4. His film projects have taken him to Antarctica, Africa and the Himalaya, often in the company of the world’s leading climbers and expeditioners. Matt also writes fiction for teenage readers, including The Everest Files, a dramatic and popular
trilogy.Here, Matt talks through the problems associated with climbing Everest today – the cost in human life and the cost to the mountain. He proposes a way forward that might not only save the mountain from being closed to climbers, but also preserve its beauty and spiritual heritage.

Ashil Shah, Lower Sixth studentFood of the future
Ashil Shah studies Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A-Level. Born the youngest of three, he possesses a curious mind and gained a keen interest in science having visited the National Science Museum for the first time at the age of 12. Ashil is fascinated by engineering, and how everyday conditions have a big impact on our lives.

With food becoming less nutritious, Ashil ponders why we don’t just make a pill designed to increase our nutrient intake. He examines what the food of the future may look like, how selective breeding and global warming could influence the nutritional content of our food and why supplementing all of our vitamins and minerals into a capsule may not be the answer.

Mr Zaki Cooper, communications professionalOne Earth, many religions
Zaki Cooper is active in inter-faith relations in the UK. He is a Trustee of the Council of Christians and Jews as well as Co-Chair of the Indian Jewish Association. He has written widely on faith and inter-faith for the national media. His work involves advising leaders on philanthropy and communications. Previously he has worked as an Assistant Press Secretary at Buckingham Palace, for former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and in a range of corporate environments.

In his talk, Zaki reflects on his many years of using the London Underground, how he struck by its users’ diversity and how, following the horrific attacks of 7/7 he has worked to highlight the importance of building bridges across the faiths, saying if we are confident in highlighting and recognising our differences we will build a better unity than if we try to ignore them.

TED is an annual event that brings together the world’s leading thinkers and doers to share ideas that matter in any discipline — technology, entertainment, design, science, humanities, business, development. The talks at the conference, called TED Talks, are then made available to watch for free on TED.com.

In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” TED has created TEDx, a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connections. Our TEDx event is not organised by TED Conferences, but is operated under a license from TED.