Will.i.am, science teacher?
With flashing lights, electric dance breakdowns and even some of his own robot-esque moves, the Black Eyed Peas singer is no stranger to the intersection of art and science.
Now, in his latest project, he’s has teamed up with Segway inventor Dean Kamen’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program, to take his new message to kids.
Based on an international youth K-12 robotics competition of 30,000 educators, students and parents in St. Louis, Missouri, in April — which will.i.am pumped up with live performances from the Peas and Willow Smith — the rapper has executive produced a one-hour ABC special based on the event.
Its goal: to get students more excited about science by emphasizing innovations in everyday life.
Scheduled for Aug. 14 and called “The i.am FIRST: Science Is Rock & Roll Back-to-School Special,” the show also features Bono, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler and more sharing testimony to the importance of the sciences.
“[Kids] love technology,” will.i.am told TheWrap. “Think about our world right now with the economic crash. Apple stock is cool … and for some reason everyone’s still signing up for Google+. Google is cool, Facebook is cool — think about what’s sitting comfy when everyone else is uncomfortable: technology.”
(Story continues after will.i.am’s new video, “My Robot Is Better Than Your Robot,” promoting science, featuring Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber, Bono, “Doctor of Thinkology” Steven Tyler and others.)
“Who’s making the Wii and the Xbox Kinect?” he said. “You’d probably think these people are geeks, but you can’t wait to get that gear.”
Kamen’s FIRST program provides tools that can be integrated with educational curriculum to increase access to quality education in the sciences. With over 2,500 schools already on board, it has been lauded by companies such as Google, Microsoft, CNN, GE.
As for his own scientific prowess, the Los Angeles native laughed, “Not even gonna front. I wasn’t good at science in school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it,” he told TheWrap.
will.i.am gained wide video notoriety during as an early supporter of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, with his video “Yes We Can.”
When asked if he will revisit political organizing for the upcoming 2012 election, he said that his educational initiatives are how he sees himself involved this time around.
“I want to surround myself with whoever has solutions, he said — refusing to endorse any particular candidate. “I endorse the youth. I vote for giving the youth the opportunities they need to go out in the world and contribute, so we can compete with other developing countries. I endorse good solutions to change inner-cities, that give kids educational opportunities they don’t have.”