Most kids don’t exhibit their science fair projects in places like the Red Room, the Blue Room, and State Dining Room in the White House. And they don’t do it against a backdrop of presidential portraits and ornate chandeliers, with five-star generals strolling around to check out their work. But on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 100 students from more than 30 states did just that—and more—when President Barack Obama hosted them at the fourth annual White House Science Fair.
“As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners,” the President told the students, as well as parents, teachers and guests, who had gathered in the East Room. Attendees also included Bill Nye the Science Guy, Kari Byron from MythBusters, and John Holdren, the President's science advisor.
This year’s fair included a special focus on girls who are excelling in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The President expressed concern that women earn less than 20% of bachelor’s degrees in engineering or computer science, and that less than 30% of them work in those fields. “That means we've got half the field, or half our team we're not even putting on the field,” to promote these jobs. He went on to announce a $35 million competition to train 100,000 STEM teachers. Bill Nye told TFK: “Science fairs are very important for engaging students in engineering projects so that we can—dare I say it—change the world. We have a lot of problems to solve, and science is going to be the key.”
Students showed a wide range of inventions, designs, and ideas at the White House Science Fair. Peyton Robertson, winner of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, invented a reusable polymer-filled sandbag for use during hurricanes. The youngest science-fair participants, Girl Scout Troop 2612, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, proudly displayed the “Flood Proof Bridge,” a Lego bridge that automatically rises during floods. The 8-year-old girls first exhibited the invention at the Junior FIRST Lego League’s Disaster Blaster Challenge. Also at the science fair was Deidre Carillo, 18, of San Antonio, Texas. She designed an electric car.
The projects were impressive. President Obama told the audience how proud he was of the students who took part in the science fair. “We’re blessed to live in a country filled with bright, eager young people who love science, love tinkering, love making things, who have the ability to see old problems and grand challenges with fresh eyes,” he said.
TFK’s Raphael Chambers has the science beat covered! Go here to read about another science fair he recently attended in Washington, D.C.