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Chris Roe: Now, earlier today we talked about space and stars. Now I have the privilege of introducing a star, great UCLA basketball player, leading scorer of all time in the NBA. Now here?s some math and numbers like we were going over this morning over thirty-eight thousand points scored. Six times, another number, six times MVP for the NBA and maybe he will talk about the physics behind the famous unstoppable sky hook, his favorite shot. Truly one of the greatest athletes the planet earth has ever seen, and who am I speaking of, none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He started the Skyhook Foundation to advance STEM education for kids. Chris found out about this and in a meeting, a national meeting of STEM educators found out that Kareem was very interested in STEM education and so I thank Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for his particular interest in After School STEM Education which we were just talking about and that he is really believing in the way that kids can learn after school and get excited about school and get attached to science as a career path and it?s the same initiative here that the STEM Learning Network and many in this room have been putting forward. So since retiring from basketball, he?s become a speaker, film maker, educator, author and his latest book which I?ve had the fun to read, ?What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors,? is really a fun and inspiring book. As both a science teacher and a history teacher, I love this book. It?s a New York Times best seller. He portrays the success stories of inventors and scientists who changed our world for the better against all odds. It is inspiring; it?s truly outstanding and in this book has become an outstanding motivator for boys and girls who will be on the way to being our future scientists. Kareem?s vision, passion and fundamental belief in America?s greatness and our inventiveness and creativeness, sends a powerful message to our youth. He is a STEM star and I have the privilege today and thank you STEM Learning Network for helping set up this opportunity and the conversations we?ve had have led to this day where I have the privilege of appointing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be the California After School STEM ambassador. Please welcome Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Chris Roe: Ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Thank you. Good afternoon everyone. I guess I?m going to have to do this like this. Good afternoon and I just want to thank everybody, Superintendent Torlakson, local and state representatives and corporate partners and friends; I want to thank you for involving me in this. I think it?s way past time that we did something like this. You guys have the right idea and I?m thrilled to be a part of this because this is something that has been an issue with me in my whole life, how, you know, even though we mean well and we try to do the best thing, the ends never get to meet at the right time and the effort that we?re going through right now will change that and get the stuff to the people who need it, you know. That?s always the crucial element in anything when you?re trying to supply something and we?re trying to supply education. This day is reminding of my entry into the NBA. I was fired up about the possibilities that were getting ready to confront me and I was anxious to join my team and the team that I joined today has a very important and special objective that I want to achieve and that would be to reach out a helping hand to the underserved youth in our communities here in the great state of California. So if they can get the education foundation that will enable them to live meaningful lives in the next decades, then education which focuses on Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will be the subjects upon which enormous numbers of jobs will be based. Unemployment for African-Americans in our country today is twenty-one percent. For Hispanics, it?s twelve percent and many of the young people in those communities have stopped looking for jobs because they?re just frustrated and a lot of them, unfortunately, go through the educational system only they end up with the skills that they need to flip hamburgers and that?s it and we have to do something about that. This trend is a problem for our nation as a whole and not just the individual communities that I mentioned. The United States used to be a world leader in the technologically based industries but we have joined a crowd of countries that lag behind nations that lead in this field and the only way that we?re going to change that is to do something like we?re attempting to do now. I was able to attend the first robotics competition in St. Louis this year and I observed firsthand the potential of STEM education. The young participants that were involved in the first competition were the focus of employers from industries that produce TV shows, video games, they make airplanes, satellite, they record the music that we all listen to and make the films just to name a few things that those people do. These employers came with millions of dollars in scholarships and grants for the participants because they knew that the kids involved in that activity we?re going to become their future employees. They will become the core of innovation who make the remarkable discoveries that will continue to make the positive changes in the world that we live in. When we start to develop the technological skills of our youth, we will begin to regain our status as the cutting edge country of the technological innovation. For this reason, I recently wrote a children?s book called, ?What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors.? I chose to write about Black inventors because so many African- American youth are unaware of their intellectual potential. In so many minority communities, young people are only able to see themselves as being successful in two areas and that would be sports and entertainment. If you were to ask a twelve-year old boy from Inner City who he would like to become in the future, he will probably give you the name of a sport star, musician or an actor and that young man would spend a lot of time on the playground or gym working on his skills or writing rap lyrics hopefully following in the footsteps of Kobe, Denzel Washington or Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg. These superstars are great but it?s my hope that we can get young men to want to spend their time getting good grades in Math and Chemistry or Physics and see themselves as successful scientists, engineers or architects. Professional sports supply very few opportunities for athletes and I know that so many kids hearing me say that, saying, you can?t be telling the truth, but I am. Major League Baseball only offers one thousand four hundred jobs. Excuse me, the NFL only offers one thousand four hundred jobs for athletes. Major League Baseball only offers seven hundred fifty jobs for its athletes an in my beloved sport of basketball, there?s only four hundred and fifty player positions available on NBA teams throughout the whole NBA. That composes thirty teams, the one?s that compete on the NBA rosters and it?s time that we get our kids to start thinking about this and get them to do the math. According to US Census Bureau of 2012, there are over thirty thousand public and private high schools in America. Assuming that each high school has a Boys? Basketball Program with anywhere from fifteen to forty-five players playing on their teams, this means that there are four hundred fifty thousand high school players dreaming about playing in the NBA, dreaming about being one of the four hundred and fifty. Statistically, this means that only one out of twenty- two thousand five hundred students will actually get the chance to play professional basketball. Statistics was something that I avoided when I went to UCLA because I was kind of mathematically challenged but I believe this and I?m going to take their word for them. However, in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, there are tens of thousands of jobs that are available right now. The companies that comprise our National Technological Center are always trying to hire skilled engineers wherever they can, wherever they can find them. People from foreign countries have come into America and taking advantage of our amazing educational opportunities so that they can take full advantage of this growing need for STEM educated graduates. Why aren?t we? I?m concerned why we as Americans are not stepping up to take advantage of this learning training and eventual employment opportunities. Isn?t it time to do something about this? This is why it is my pleasure to team up my Skyhook Foundation with the after school division of the California Department of Education. Our partnership will have as its focus the goal of promoting STEM education opportunities for minority students in After School Programs. America has become a minority in the global job markets that require knowledge and technical skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This deeply troubles me when we know that education is a secret to every success in life and the bridge that narrows the gap between the haves and have not?s. When I was a young boy growing up in Harlem, I was taught by my wonderful parents that school needed to be a well-rounded experience not just an athletic one. So they emphasized education and learning and achieving excellence in everything I did. In basketball I decided I needed to create a shot that could not be blocked, a sportscaster named Eddie Doucette, he used to announce for the Padres, he called it the Skyhook. However because of the way I was raised, I quickly learned that I could do more that shoot a ball through a hoop. My greatest asset was my mind. This was why I created the Skyhook Foundation to promote academic achievement among underserved youth by connecting them with mentors and helping them to understand careers outside of sports, such as those in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In this way, education and STEM opportunities become every kids shot that can?t be blocked. At the end of the day, Superintendent Torlakson and our wonderful California Board of Education have dreams for sale; but unlike the movie script in Field of Dreams, no one, no longer can we think if you build it they will come. No longer can we quote Dr. Martin Luther King, I have a dream and complain that the government has written a check that they cannot cash and in lieu of sufficient funds. No longer can we say I did my best. We must succeed in doing that which is necessary. It?s time to do what needs to be done. We must go to where our underserved youth are physically and emotionally; only there can we gently invite them to grow and participate and get involved and take advantage of our after school STEM programs. With the backing of the California Board of Education and its corporate friends, we?ll find a way to turn our underserved youth on to the opportunities that are so readily available to them in the field of technology. Our young students, their communities and our nation will be greatly rewarded when we succeed and it?s always a great day when everyone wins. Let me conclude with the words of one of my heroes, Coach Wooden who sums up why I am here today and what are challenges of today and tomorrow. Coach Wooden always used to tell us, ?Failing to prepare is preparing to fail?, short and simple and I heard that a number of times. Yes, we have dreams for sale and the underserved children of California are counting on us to deliver. Not just the promise of equal education but to deliver the promise of STEM jobs through education. May we make this our noble purpose and resolve. I?d like to thank Margaret Carter from Reading is Fundamental for donating the copies of my book, ?What Color is My World??, that we?ll be giving out today. Thank you Margaret, it?s a really wonderful thing that you did and I?m sure the kids are going to like that and thank you very much for your attention. Chris Roe: I think we have time for just a couple of questions so I?m going to take the crack at doing that and I have to say, as someone who grew up as a young man in Wisconsin, when you were playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, you were one of my inspirations and I know that the book that you just wrote talks a lot about inspiration, so I?m curious what was your inspiration for writing the book? What really inspired you to sit down and write that book? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Well the thing that motivated me was the fact I have to back up, I wrote a book in 1996, that was an overview of Black history and I did a section in there on Lewis Latimer, who?s the African American who invented the filament for the light bulb and in doing that research I found out a lot about Black inventors of the 19th century and I was amazed because most of them I didn?t know what they did; they invented incredible amount of things that we all take for granted like the ice cream scoop or potato chips or peanut butter, stuff like that, we all take that for granted and did not know that Black Americans invented them and I was left over with a number of profiles that I could?ve done on this people but it really did make an adult-sized book and just about two years ago we figured out that it would make a perfect children?s book. So that?s what I did and I also really started to get annoyed by the fact that too many kids in the inner cities and, you know, minority communities did not understand that they had a mind and that to steal a phrase from the United Negro College Fund, ?Our mind is a terrible thing to waste?, and we?re just wasting a lot of minds that could go to helping our country and making a whole lot of communities better places. Chris Roe: So earlier today, we had some amazing presentations, you know, the NASA folks have been here and talking about the Mars rover Curiosity and for me it recalled one of my first real Aha! memories was seeing man land on the moon. I was just old enough to really remember that. Was there a moment like that in your childhood in terms of Science or Engineering, I know math wasn?t maybe one of your strongest suits but was there a particular moment that you can remember that really spurred you to be thinking about where we?re at today? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: For me that moment happened when the Russians shot up Sputnik. I remember that very vividly and I went to catholic school in New York City and had the Christian brothers and they were saying, in a couple of years the Russians are going to be marching down Broadway because they?re too far advanced ahead of us. Look what they did, they send a dog up into space and you know, and I never thought about the fact that we?re in competition with other people in the world who would like to take over our position of leadership. So the only way we?re going to do that is to educate our way back to the point where we legitimately hold that position. Chris Roe: So Tom, you?re a former science teacher, what was your epiphany moment, your real Aha! moments when, oh sorry, when you really decided that that was the career that you wanted to have? Tom Torlakson: Well I think I can go back to camping with my mom and dad and brothers, you know, my dad was a teacher so we got off and went to state parks and I remember Burney Falls Park and just camped out under the stars like I mentioned when you get kids outdoors, you know, in that environment, you just ask questions and you start thinking and so that was a pivotal moment for me just looking at the shooting stars, sort of figuring out why are some stars brighter, how far away are they and then my dad said, you know, our son is a star anyway, it was, it?s basic things that, you know, sort of curiosity and when you take kids out camping and they ask the same questions, you know, how did the earth form and where are we going and how do we preserve it and protect it and so, that and reading John Muir, I?ve read a lot of his books about conserving our natural resources and the beautiful environment we have, so we?re blessed to have these wonderful assets in our lives and it?s fun to know more about them. Chris Roe: So a question on teamwork, I?ve played a little bit of basketball as a youth and I know how important that was when my coaches talk to me, can you talk a little bit about the role of teamwork and how that may impact students today. We had a really interesting presentation earlier today about kids working together in teams so I?m just curious what your thoughts are about that. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I think teamwork is really a great way that teaching occurs. I noticed that at the first competition that I mentioned in my speech, all of the different competitors were teams and there were people in the teams that were slower in some areas than others and they got help from the other people in those areas that they were slow in but they also had areas that they were pretty sharp in and that they were able to share their knowledge and how they achieve in understanding of problem solving to the other people and the whole interaction between all the different minds on the team really determine how much success they would have and some of the teams with the nerdiest kids on it did the best robots I?d ever seen. The competition was basketball. They had to make a robot that shot baskets. So they had me there to check it out and I was fascinated. There was one machine that just, it just didn?t miss and it was hard for me to believe that some kids made this from a robot kit but they did. Chris Roe: It wasn?t as good as the Skyhook though. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Well, there was nobody, there?s no defense, it was still something to see. Chris Roe: So my last question I?m going to ask you, you reference in your book this notion of the Bucket Brigade and that?s been an inspiration for here in our conference today. Who had been the people in your life who really have been at the beginning of that Bucket Brigade to get you to where you are today? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I would have to say, first of all my parents and then I would have to mention a mentoring program that I participated in between my junior and senior year in high school and it was designed to challenge the kids in Harlem. I?m from a New York City neighborhood called Harlem, it?s pretty well known. Most people have heard of it and we were challenged to see what we could do to make Harlem a better place and in order to do that I had to find out about my community and what it needed and deal with the different problems that it had and it changed my life. All of a sudden I really cared about my fellow, you know, people my age and had respect for the older generation that did all they could do to give us the opportunities that we had and it just turned me around and it really sharpened my interest in history and that?s why I?m a historian and I write history books today because of that experience. So they got to me at the right time. Dr. Martin Luther King came and addressed participants in the program, that was the summer of sixty-four, it was less than a year after he?d been named Man of the Year and he had all this press following him and he told us we were already successful because we were already thinking about making Harlem a better place and it really motivated me and enabled me to really get an understanding of what I wanted to do with my life. It?s probably?the things that I?m doing now are probably what I would?ve done if I?d had a real job immediately after graduating from college. Chris Roe: It?s terrific. Tom, who?s been in your Bucket Brigade? Tom Torlakson: Well I go back to my mom and dad and, you know, the chance to have a great upbringing and great public schools and my coach, in my high school track and cross country I was a running kind of guy and so, [inaudible] stands out as someone who just said, reach high, aim high, you know, and set goals and get after them and be determined and that really was a life changer for me and then when I decided to explore teaching, I went to the University of California, the Lawrence Hall of Science had a special science program and Dave Miller was a teacher who showed me all these school labs, go down and look at the drop of pond water and see all these, you know, microcosmic forms of life. So those kind of people, there are teachers and you know, you sort of open your eyes to the wonders of the world. Chris Roe: Great, well thank you very much, Kareem, congratulations again on your being named STEM After School Ambassador. We?re really excited. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Thank you very much. Chris Roe: We are pleased that you are here.