#NASATweetup: Rock Star will.i.am Partners with NASA, Has a S.Y.S.T.E.M. to Make Science and Technology Cool

Lars Perkins, will.i.am, Lori Garver, Leland Melvin, Bill Nye the Science Guy Talk STEM during NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, Nov. 26, 2011
Lars Perkins, will.i.am, Lori Garver, Leland Melvin, Bill Nye the Science Guy Talk STEM during NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, Nov. 26, 2011

We are great explorers, we are an exploring species.

~ Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA

Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back but rock star will.i.am is making science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) rock-and-roll-cool with a S.Y.S.T.E.M., stimulating youth around science technology engineering mathematics.

Coinciding with the launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the space agency invited the musician and technology advocate to share his enthusiasm during NASA Tweetup on November 25 and 26, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Science is Rock and Roll
The Black Eyed Peas front man told 150 NASA Twitter followers (including me!), who traveled from 10 countries and 37 states, “I realized when it comes to science and pop culture most people don’t think it’s cool.”

will.i.am's Rock Star Shoes, NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, Nov. 26, 2011
will.i.am's Rock Star Shoes, NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, Nov. 26, 2011

Which is why will.i.am teamed up with Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The musician watched the televised FIRST competitions and saw amazing things kids ages 6 to 18-years-old were doing with computers and building robots. He wanted to get involved by creating a science and technology-based television show but Kamen warned him there wasn’t a way a major television network would air it because “they don’t think science and robotics is cool enough.”

will.i.am responded to Kamen’s skepticism, “Maybe you guys have the wrong people doing it,” and purchased airtime on ABC to air i.am.FIRST- Science is Rock and Roll, which aired Sunday, August 14, 2011.

“You have to take risks you have to do things out of the norm to do things out of the norm,” will.i.am told NASA Tweetup participants and added he gathered his peers and friends to help with Science is Rock and Roll to “shine a light why sciences are important.”

Black Eyed Peas Rock Star and Technology Advocate will.i.am, NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, November 26, 2011
Black Eyed Peas Rock Star and Technology Advocate will.i.am, NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, November 26, 2011

NASA Reaches Out will.i.am
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden soon reached out to the musician and invited him to get involved in continuing STEM education. He was introduced to Leland Melvin, astronaut and NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education, and Lars Perkins, co-founder of Picasa.

Coinciding with the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing on the Red Planet on August 6, 2012, will.i.am will release a song called “Reach for the Stars.”

“Let’s reach for the stars. When children sing that it shows you that the sky is not the limit,” the singer said and added, “Stop saying that. You’re lying to them when you say ‘sky’s the limit.’ You know, ‘let’s reach for the stars’ the light, energy and connectivity to keep moving forward past the things we’ve already accomplished.”

Leland Melvin, will.i.am, and Lori Garver Talk STEM and S.Y.S.T.E.M., NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, November 23, 2011
Leland Melvin, will.i.am, and Lori Garver Talk STEM and S.Y.S.T.E.M., NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, November 23, 2011

America’s Youth Needs a New System
S.Y.S.T.E.M. emerged because “STEM isn’t a cool word,” will.i.am said, “America’s youth, they need a new system.”

Leland Melvin pointed out, when people think about STEM fields, they should also think about arts and music because “There’s math in music. You need to know math for music.”

This is Why Science is Cool: Lift Off of United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket Carrying NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Nov. 26, 2011
This is Why Science is Cool: Lift Off of United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket Carrying NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Nov. 26, 2011

“Without science technology engineering and mathematics we would have no music industry,” the Black Eyed Peas star said, “Moving STEM forward you need art and that’s STEAM, science technology engineering math and arts.”

will.i.am also challenged the group to keep science and technology relevant. “We have to help educate popular culture to remember where these tools come from. If it wasn’t for NASA research we wouldn’t have any of these laptops, any of these smartphones. I wouldn’t be able to make music off computers and share them around the world off computers if it wasn’t for the research that NASA did.

“Popular culture needs to be reminded about that…this is cool, we don’t treat it like it’s cool enough.”

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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