The popular online lecture series gets the local treatment at Allendale Columbia School.

Three event highlights:

1) What is TED?

TED (which stands for technology, entertainment, and design) is a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading." At TED conferences, the world's leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at

Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has expanded to allow local, independently-organized events held under the TEDx banner.

Allendale Columbia School's head of school, Mick Gee, said he uses TED talks in working with faculty, who also use them working with students.

"I love the idea of spreading ideas and generating thinking," Gee said. "We're trying to do that in school. We're less trying to make kids memorize this and that and we're trying to get them to be thinkers, because the content will disappear from school, but the idea of conversation, communicating, and thinking is important."

2) Student - organized

TEDx Allendale Columbia is being organized primarily by Martijn Appelo, a 16-year-old junior at the school who came up with the idea to host the event after watching TED talks in class last year.

"I kind of said it as a joke at first and now it's really happening, which is scary and fun at the same time," Appelo said.

Appelo isn't putting the event together by himself, though. He got TED's approval to host the event in October and has help from a faculty advisor and a student committee that meets daily to have everything ready to go by February.

Gee said the real-world planning, deadlines, and consequences the students face in organizing the event help to make it an invaluable learning experience.

"I think schools are often contrived places where we create these situations that don't really exist in real life," Gee said. "Trying to organize something like this develops a certain skill set that I'm not sure schools do their best to develop, putting students in real situations. It's a genuine experience, and we try to encourage that."

3) Connections

The theme of TEDx Allendale Columbia is "connections." Each talk will have its own theme, and the speakers are expected to explain through informative, entertaining storytelling how that theme connects people and makes a difference.

"'Connections' is one of the core values of the school, but it's also a really nice way of branching out," Appelo said. "We're hoping people will get not only a networking experience with people they may have never met with who share the same interest, we're also hoping people will gain a better understanding of things they never even knew about."

More specific information on the speakers will not be available until the line-up is revealed on the day of the event. Appelo said TED encourages the last-minute reveal to ensure attendees come for the whole show rather than a specific talk.

"What you can expect from speakers at the event itself is really the unexpected," Appelo said. "It can be anywhere from a kindergarten teacher at an elementary school down the street to a post doctoral researcher at U of R. The idea is that you have nothing to expect when you walk in the door. All you know is that it's going to be about 'ideas worth spreading.'"

Why you should go:

"It's amazing to see what comes out of an event like this, how many things that you never knew about. You walk out and think 'Wow. That actually means something. That really makes a difference.'"
—Martijn Appelo