Science Researcher and L.A. Band OK Go Enlighten Poly Second-graders and Launch Educational Website

Published : Wednesday, May 2, 2018 | 2:27 PM

Former Caltech researcher AnnMarie Thomas has been collaborating with the Los Angeles-based band OK Go with the shared intention of creating engaging, fun-filled, STEAM-focused videos for use in K-12 classrooms and beyond. Thomas, now an associate professor at the School of Engineering and Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas and director of the Playful Learning Lab, reached out earlier this year and offered to bring their project to Poly. Robin Barnes, chair of Poly’s Science Department, shares that the team’s educational videos have already been used in classes here: “For years, teachers in ninth grade science have used OK Go’s ‘This Too Shall Pass’ video to introduce one of the students’ three independent project options, building a Rube Goldberg machine. It’s a fun and engaging way to get the students to start thinking about how they might create a complex machine that accomplishes a simple task while thinking of physics concepts!

Thomas and a student of hers, Jenna Laleman, guided Poly second-graders through a lab called Squishy Circuits, in which students create their own electrical circuits that power tiny light bulbs using soft, squishy dough. Band members Damian Kulash, Tim Norwind, Dan Konopka, and Andy Ross partnered with the students during the engaging activity that had not only lit up colorful, little bulbs, but also second-graders’ faces as well.

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