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Teacher Tools to Know: OK Go Sandbox

Students and teachers will have fun in the classroom with OK Go Sandbox, an online resource that connects incredible music videos and STEM concepts.

OK Go SandboxTeachers can access OK Go Sandbox and get a free collection of learning materials for students in grades kindergarten through 12 that includes zany music videos by rock band members who not only entertain, but teach STEM concepts.

OK Go is a real American rock band that has produced elaborate and one-of-a-kind music videos. Originally from Chicago, OK Go now has a home base of Los Angeles and is comprised of Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Dan Konopka, and Andy Ross. Their one-take videos became YouTube hits and started being used by teachers in the classroom because they felt the music and math concepts demonstrated by the band were a great way to interest their students in mathematics. If you’ve never seen any of their videos, check out this one that features an incredible Rube Goldberg Machine—and remember that each of their videos are all shot in one take.

OK Go never expected to get involved in education and was surprised when teachers and students told them about using their videos in the classroom because of the many STEM concepts that were related to the band’s productions. The band members describe themselves as nerds and were immediately onboard. They wanted to help kids learn STEM skills and they reached out to the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota to combine OK Go’s music videos with educational concepts and sound instruction. OK Go Sandbox was developed from a survey of 600 teachers taken by AnnMarie Thomas, director of Playful Learning Lab. Google provided support to the project and the Google Science Journal app gives students and teachers access to tools that go along with OK Go Sandbox.

The OK Go Sandbox videos have quirky names and fun challenges:
This Too Shall Pass is a four-minute video (seen above) that demonstrates a Rube Goldberg machine (a machine which produces a chain reaction to accomplish a very simple task in a very complicated manner). The members of the band get splattered with paint as a result of the force of such actions as dominoes that fall and marbles rolling along, glasses of water played by a guitar with spoons, and a piano that crashes to the ground.
The One Moment teaches algebraic principles of gravity in a four-minute video of the band flying in an anti-gravity plane while singing and dancing.
Here It Goes Again features OK Go rocking out while dancing on treadmills and teaches the concepts of speed and rate.
Needing/Getting stars a robotic car that gives a musical performance, teaching students to make music from anything, and OK Go Sandbox has added an option for students to use their cellphone to compose new sounds and interpret data.

Try OK Go Sandbox and email hello@okgosandbox.org to share your ideas that could be incorporated in future OK Go Sandbox classroom videos. OK Go Sandbox tells visitors to their website: “The best part of a sandbox is that we can try building lots of new things, even if we occasionally have to knock some things down and start over.”

Want to explore other ed-tech resources? Click here to explore our series on some of the best and buzziest.

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Sue Hamilton

Sue is a Pennsylvania native and graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.S. degree in English. She worked as a radio newscaster and newspaper reporter before becoming a paralegal in a small civil law firm. Reading is her passion and Sue is an avid volunteer with her community library.

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