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Gay Yee-Hill: We have a very special guest. You may know him as a popular entertainer and member of the Black Eyed Peas, but at NASA he's known for his support to kids and getting the interested in science and engineering. Let's welcome will.i.am.
will.i.am: How are you?
Gay: Fine, thanks for being here.
will.i.am: Thank you for having me.
Gay: So we had some video of you from the Tweetup at launch and what was that experience like for you?
will.i.am: That was amazing, you know to see humanity at our finest, all the innovation and dedication, to be able to defy the laws of gravity and send a piece of humanity out to a different planet was just amazing.
Gay: One of the messages you made there was that you wanted science and technology to be a part of popular culture. What did you mean by that?
will.i.am: So science and technology is already a part of popular culture it's just that the world of STEM hasn't figured out a way to remind people that that iPhone and that iPad and all the code that makes Twitter and Facebook work, it all takes, it all comes from people that have an education around STEM.
Gay: So you get involved in stuff like FIRST Robotics. We have footage of you being a part of that whole experience and getting kids really excited. We can roll some of that footage. That was not too long ago. I guess that was just this spring?
will.i.am: Yeah, so last year I made a TV program with Dean Kamen called 'i.am FIRST,' which was inspired by Dean Kamen's 'US FIRST.' And I wanted to do my part and make a TV program. So it's part of my efforts and supporting Obama. It's called 'Yes we can.' I'm a part of that we. So are you people at home. How are you going to contribute to change our communities, to change our America? So I want to change my neighborhood and in order for me to change my neighborhood, I have to inspire kids to let them know that science is cool. So that means I have to invest and make a TV show. So that TV show got a No. 2 rating on ABC. I promoted myself on Twitter and it was around all of Dean Kamen's activities and providing a platform and a program called 'US FIRST' where kids compete in building robots.
Gay: But what got you inspired? What triggered it in you to want to do something?
will.i.am: The tools, you know, computers. Computers, they help me make music. They help me expand my ideas to where I can come up with an idea right now and send it around the world. And it rides on an electromagnetic highway and people are entertained and hear my music on phones and computers. The school that I went to, Brentwood Science Magnet. I was always around science growing up, ever since the the 7th grade. And now I want to do my part, you know.
Gay: And doing your part is taking it home to Boyle Heights here in LA.
will.i.am: So yeah, so I'm building a STEM center after-school program in East Los Angeles. There's a movie called 'Waiting for Superman.' My mom went to that school, Roosevelt. I was supposed to go to that school and STEM isn't in the hood. STEM isn't even in Palisades where I got bussed out. So I want to change that. So I built my i.am College Track center in partnership with Laurene Jobs and Dean Kamen and I don't want to just stop in East Los Angeles. So then I took all the money that I made from doing The Voice in the U.K. and I gave it to Prince Charles to build a STEM center in East London.
Gay: So it's international?
will.i.am: International. It's going to take people from the U.K., people from the Philippines, it's going to take everybody realizing that science, technology, engineering, mathematics is the coolest thing in the world.
Gay: And you know what, this is really the most inspiring thing, to see what you're doing and taking it on as your personal quest.
will.i.am: If it's not in your city already, there's something stopping it. So I don't want my neighborhood to continue to be the way it was 20 years from now. All it takes is one kid. It takes one kid from Boyle Heights to turn into Mark Zuckerberg and then my neighborhood's changed forever. It takes one kid to be Elon Musk, that's from Brixton and Brixton's changed forever. It takes on Filipino kid from Pampanga to be Jack Dorsey and then the Philippines is changes forever. So all you have to do is just ... I'll take skin off my back. You know, I've done music. I've lived my dreams. I want to do what's going to motivate and change communities 20 years from now.
Gay: And I mean, you've had this exciting singing career. How does this stack up? How does this compare?
will.i.am: So if you think of music and if someone reminds you that music is just technology, you know the technology is takes to mold brass into a trumpet or to make a piano, or the technology it takes for this transmission that RCA created you know when NTSE or a record, a phonograph, that's all technology. The radio is technology. You know, video is all technology. And then art sat on top of it. So now that we have all these new tools, we have to create a new marriage between art, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and that is called, 'STEAM,' S.T.E.A.M. So that why I want to put that 'A' in that STEM to create some STEAM.
Gay: Alright, well while you're here, I understand you wanted to do a shout-out.
will.i.am: A shout-out?
Gay: A shout-out to some of the kids out there.
will.i.am: Oh, yes, I wanted to shout-out to all the kids that joined up in Boyle Heights for my i.am College Track program. On Aug. 15, we're going to come here for the ... bringing all the kids from Boyle Heights to come here to JPL to be a part of the download, because I wrote a song for Curiosity. And, you know, there's going to be a surprise. Something that's going to come from Curiosity.
Gay: So keep it a surprise [laughs]
will.i.am: Yeah, it's a surprise.
Gay: Alright, well we're going to look forward to the visit.
will.i.am: Thank you so much.
Gay: Thanks, will. Thanks for joining us.