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OK Go is linking with Google, Jeff Bezos, and Morton Salt to teach kids math and science

For applying their artistic obsessiveness to STEAM education, the four members of OK Go are among Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business

OK Go is linking with Google, Jeff Bezos, and Morton Salt to teach kids math and science
[Photo: Art Streiber/August Image]


“Most rock music is used for catharsis,” says OK Go bandleader and video director Damian Kulash. “That’s true for us, too, but our songs’ videos were also being used as teacher’s aids.” They figured, Why not make it official? Last year, the musicians—known for orchestrating such scientifically choreographed spectacles as a four-minute-long Rube Goldberg machine and a cheeky space ballet performed in zero-g—partnered with AnnMarie Thomas, director of the University of St. Thomas’s Playful Learning Lab, to launch the nonprofit OK Go Sandbox. This online resource for teachers, sponsored by Google, Morton Salt, and Cognizant Technology Solutions, offers STEAM-related activities and challenges based on the band’s videos. One example, which has been viewed 340,000 times, reveals the math (and spreadsheets) behind their viral music video for “The One Moment,” which slowed a 4.2-second-long chain reaction to sync with the song. Their latest initiative is a contest in conjunction with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Cognizant that will place a student’s art experiment (to be announced in May) aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle, a reusable craft designed to take payloads—and eventually, people—into suborbital space. “OK Go are not great mathematicians or physicists or engineers—or even guitarists or filmmakers,” says Kulash of himself and bandmates Dan Konopka, Tim Nordwind, and Andy Ross. “What we have is a good operating vocabulary in many different fields.” This project, they believe, will encourage the boundary-crossing knowledge needed to solve increasingly complex global problems. “People who can learn the mechanics of one system, apply it to another, and express it in a third—they will have an advantage.”

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