OK Go partners with University of St. Thomas to promote math and science

With their elaborately choreographed music videos, OK Go is one of the most visually creative bands in the country. Now, some of their works of art will be used to help students get excited about math and science.

"We can't bring all the kids to concerts, but we can bring a little bit of this to them," said Annmarie Thomas, a professor of engineering at the University of St. Thomas.

Professor Thomas says for years she's been showing her students the band’s music video for "This Too Shall Pass" where the band created an intricate chain reaction machine synchronized to their music.

When she bumped into OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash at a conference last year, they decided to work together to help other teachers do the same thing.

"I told him I use your videos when I teach teachers how to teach engineering,” said Thomas. “I use them in my own classroom. It turned out they had been hearing from teachers and long wanted to do something in education, but needed a partner."

The four band members came to campus last fall to shoot a series of videos with Thomas and her students for a new website for teachers called OK Go Sandbox.

Some videos are Q and A's about the science behind the music videos like "The One Moment" where they took a four-second shot and slowed it down to last four minutes. Other videos challenge students to, among other things, create chain reaction machines of their own.

"We're not teachers, but if there's a way in to math and science through the things we do, we're happy to help teach that," said Tim Norwind, an OK Go band member. 

The band is head over heels about their newest venture and Thomas says she's ready to get their project off the ground.

"We're really proud of this,” said Thomas. “We want to see where this goes."

In addition to the videos, OK Go Sandbox has learning guides and activities for mostly middle school students and educators to engage with the band. Thomas and some of her students will head to Atlanta to help launch the web portal at a convention for science teachers on Thursday.