Celebrate Science!

President Obama hosts the White House Science Fair

Oct 20, 2010 | By Andrea Delbanco

"When you win first place at a science fair, nobody's rushing the field or dumping Gatorade over your head," said President Barack Obama, speaking to a room full of young science scholars. But he believes that achievement in science should be celebrated more. "In many ways, our future depends on what happens in those contests," he said. That's why he invited the middle and high-school winners of science, technology, engineering and math contests to show their work at the White House Science Fair on Monday.

Award-winning projects at the fair included a robot that plays soccer and a device to discourage texting while driving. There was a special wheelchair designed to help a classmate, and a "smart toilet" that cuts back on water use. The President was intrigued by a test of whether foam is the best material to pad safety helmets. Obama asked seventh-graders Jonathan Berman, Benjamin Kotzubei and Austin Veseliza, from Los Angeles, California, to explain their investigation. They revealed their findings: foam isn't the best material. A gel liner is better, but more expensive.

The President spent almost an hour viewing the 11 projects that were on display in the State Dining Room. He had questions, and congratulations, for the presenters. "It's hard to describe just how impressive these young people are," he said.

Let's Get Serious About Science

Obama says the United States is being outpaced by the achievements of other countries in science and math. He challenged American students to move from the middle to the top in these important subjects. The White House Science Fair began a full week of events aimed at getting people excited about science.

"We can think of Einstein, Edison, Franklin, Tesla, and the founders of Google and Apple and Microsoft," Obama said. "But now we've got some other people to think about, like Mikayla Nelson, who's here today. . . She and her classmates built a solar-powered car that won the design award in the National Science Bowl. . . There's no doubt we can expect great things from her."

The President announced that he will appear in an episode of Mythbusters, a Discovery Channel science show. Obama will test the myth that Greek scientist Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using mirrors to reflect the sun. The episode will air on December 8.