will.i.am: Reach For The Stars
Earlier this week, during an education program hosted by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 53 high school students from the i.am College Track Center in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, VIP guests and NASA and JPL officials, and Curiosity mission members paid tribute to the legacy of Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon.
During the event, the group also celebrated the successful delivery of the world’s first song from The Red Planet, Mars, back to Earth.
Concurrently, will.i.am's i.am.angel Foundation and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital resources to K-12 classrooms proven to impact student achievement, announced a groundbreaking youth engagement initiative to bring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education to life for millions of students nationwide. The program, i.am.STEAM, which features NASA assets such as the Mars Curiosity Rover, is designed to inspire and cultivate the next generation of problem-solvers and innovators. The program will be made possible by the financial contributions of the i.am.angel Foundation and its partners, and will be executed by Discovery Education.
“Reach For The Stars (Mars Edition),” an original composition by musician and philanthropist will.i.am, traveled hundreds of millions of miles roundtrip to Mars and back to Earth. NASA scientists and engineers explained the technical process by which the song was placed on the Mars Science Lab Curiosity rover, now on Mars, and then brought back to Earth.
Designed to inspire young people everywhere to reach for their dreams and to embrace STEAM education and careers in the field, will.i.am composed and produced “Reach For The Stars (Mars Edition)”, which included two youth choirs who joined him in the studio, and includes additional vocals by recording artist Lil Jon. The school choirs included the Oasis Academy Hadley School Gospel Choir in Northeast London (Enfield, UK) and the Southfields Academy Choir in Southwest London (near Wimbledon, UK). Both the Oasis Academy Hadley School and the Southfields Academy schools offer STEM-focused curriculum. Young people from the Agape International Center Children’s Choir also participated in studio rehearsals with will.i.am in Los Angeles. Recording took place at the Record Plant in Los Angeles and Metropolis Studios in London.
“Today is about inspiring young people to lead a life without limits placed on their potential and to pursue collaboration between humanity and technology through STEAM education. I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back,” said will.i.am.
“In 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, he inspired a generation. It is still all about inspiration. I want to thank everyone who believes that and is working with NASA education to spread the message that a brighter tomorrow begins by inspiring dreamers, creators and explorers today,” said Leland Melvin, Astronaut and Associate Administrator for Education at NASA.
“Discovery has a 25-year commitment to education and igniting peoples’ curiosity, rooted in our very DNA. The foundation’s goals around STEAM education are in perfect synch with Discovery Education’s experience, solutions, tools and resources to drive interest and excellence in STEAM subjects and eventually, careers,” said Bill Goodwyn, CEO, Discovery Education. “We are thrilled to partner with the i.am.angel foundation and will.i.am on this groundbreaking initiative and together, prepare the next generation of STEAM leaders.”
Program speakers included: Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator (via video message); Adam Steltzner, JPL lead engineer for entry, descent and landing of the Curiosity rover; Mike Meyer, Lead Scientist, Mars Exploration Program; Leland Melvin, Astronaut and Associate Administrator for Education at NASA; will.i.am, musician, philanthropist and STEM education advocate; Bill Goodwyn, CEO of Discovery Education.
Prior to the official program remarks that were televised on NASA TV, the 53 students from the inaugural i.am College Track Boyle Heights Center and teachers from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, CA participated in a guided tour of the JPL campus, viewing model rover spacecraft and learned about STEM careers from NASA and JPL scientists and engineers. Students and teachers also discussed the educational coursework requirements and high school and college internships available at NASA and JPL.