This was no ordinary science fair! Today's fourth annual White House Science Fair celebrated 100 students from more than 30 states, who represent over 40 different science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions across the country. Additionally, 30 student teams exhibited their awe-inspiring, award-winning projects. President Obama hosted the event, applauding these young people's achievements.
After viewing the students' exhibits, it was clear a self-effacing POTUS was floored by their accomplishments, joking, "I have a confession to make. When I was growing up my science fair projects were not as successful as those here! ... I accidentally killed some plants that were a part of my experiment. Another time, a bunch of mice escaped in my grandmother's apartment. These experiments did not take me straight to the White House!"
Obama continued, "And, instead, I have a chance now to see what real young scientists can do. And they were just amazing. And, by the way, there were no rodents loose in the White House." Calling out various noteworthy exhibitors, Obama eventually said he didn't want to leave anyone out, because he was so impressed with the whole group of young scientists.
Among those that spurred huge rounds of applause, however, were exhibitors like 12-year-old Peyton Robertson from Fort Lauderdale, FL, whose innovative prototype "sandless" sandbag can better protect flood ones, like those in his own South Florida community. President Obama also raved about 16-year-old Olivia Van Amsterdam and 17-year-old Katelyn Sweeney, who were representing their team from Natick High School in MA. "[Van Amsterdam and Sweeney] worked to develop a robot that could help firefighters and ice rescue teams search for objects and bodies in perilous waters," Obama explained. "When they’re not busy building lifesaving robots, they are also establishing an all-girls robotics team." And everyone got a kick out of the tiara-wearing Girl Scout troop from Tulsa, OK who called themselves the "Lego Queens" and built a model of a flood-proof bridge -- not only mechanizing the bridge using motors and the correct gear ratios, but also developing a simple computer program to automatically retract the bridge when flood conditions are detected by a motion sensor embedded in the river bed.
Pointing to all of the students' ingenuity and passion, President Obama took the opportunity to announce exciting developments in the "Educate to Innovate" campaign, an effort to get more girls and boys inspired to excel in these critical fields, which include:
- A new $35 million Department of Education competition will support the president's goal to train 100,000 STEM teachers.
- A major expansion of STEM AmeriCorps to provide STEM learning opportunities for 18,000 low-income students this summer.
- A national STEM mentoring effort in seven cities, as well as new steps by leading tech and media companies, non-profits, and others to connect more students to STEM.
These ramped-up efforts are sure to fuel so many exciting innovations coming from seriously brilliant young minds. If the 2014 White House Science Fair exhibitors are any indication of the talent and potential coming from the next generation, we're most definitely in good hands!
Check out this video of President Obama's full remarks at the event ...
How do you encourage your child's interests in science, technology, engineering, and/or math?
Image via Getty