Young scientists impress Obama at White House Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez, both of Phoenix, Arizona, explain their robot to President Barack Obama during the 2015 White House Science Fair (AP photo / Reuters)
Young scientists impress Obama at White House
Lexile

The small Lego machine inside the White House whirred. And in a moment it was turning the pages of a story book. One page flipped. Then another, ever faster. President Barack Obama marveled at its efficiency.

The contraption's eventual aim would allow paralyzed or arthritic patients to read books despite their disabilities.

"How did you figure this out?" Obama, impressed, asked its inventors.

"We had a brainstorming session," one of the five 6-year-old Girl Scouts replied.

The kindergartners and first graders from Tulsa, Oklahoma, were among 35 young science fair winners. They had come to the White House. It is in Washington, DC. They showcased their breakthroughs. They ranged from spinal implants to carbon-dioxide powered batteries. There even was a keystroke identity system. It can back up computer password securities.

Obama used the science fair event to highlight efforts to encourage more students to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math. He announced more than $240 million in pledges to boost the study of those fields, known as STEM. This year's fair is focused on diversity. The idea is to get more youngsters from all walks of life to participate.

The president seemed awed by all of the displays. But none seemed to delight him more than the Lego page-turner.

Obama allowed as to how the device might need a little adjustment. At its current speed, a reader might only catch three sentences in a page.

"It's a prototype," one of the Girl Scout designers replied matter-of-factly.

"Have you ever had a brainstorming session yourself?" one little girl asked.

Indeed, yes, the president replied.

"What did you come up with?"

"I mean, I came up with things like, you know, health care," he said, amused. "It turned out ok. But it started off with some prototypes."

The pledges the president announced include a $150 million philanthropic effort. Its goal is to encourage promising early-career scientists to stay on track. There's also a $90 million campaign to expand STEM opportunities to underrepresented youth. That focuses on minorities and girls. Altogether, the new STEM commitments have brought total financial and material support for these programs to $1 billion.

"It's not enough for our country just to be proud of you. We've got to support you," Obama said later. He spoke to students and scientists in the White House East Room.

More than 100 colleges and universities have committed to training 20,000 engineers. And a coalition of CEOs has promised to expand high-quality STEM education programs. They want to reach an additional 1.5 million students this year.

Obama launched "Educate to Innovate" in 2009. It's an effort to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering and math.

Obama said the fair is one of the most fun events held annually at the White House.

"Every year I walk out smarter than when I walked in," Obama said.

Critical thinking challenge: Why might this science fair do more to promote STEM than other science fairs?

SPONSOR LINK: Learn How Bayer Is Supporting STEM Education in Schools

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COMMENTS (19)
  • JOSHUALA-bro
    3/26/2015 - 09:34 p.m.

    That is really cool how such a young person can meet with the president and immpress him! I'm in 6th grade and I neveer would've thought that a 5th grader would be aloud to enter the White House.

    • NicholsE-Sua
      4/13/2015 - 11:44 p.m.

      You spelled Never wrong but I like what you said.

  • bennies-war
    3/27/2015 - 01:46 p.m.

    some people are smart and create cool things like automatic page flippers. I would be happy to have one if I couldn't do that on my own.

  • ethana1-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:12 p.m.

    stem is science tech and math. the science fair would help us lean more about stem by the inventions by what ever the invention is.

  • adenison
    4/05/2015 - 03:37 p.m.

    I think this article is about being an inventor and it can be done by anyone. If you're a kid or an adult you can do it you just need hard work and brainstorming. You would be surprised how much your invention could mean to someone.

  • CirilloP-Sua
    4/13/2015 - 06:50 p.m.

    This science fair do more to promote stem than other science fairs. It is more promote stem because it is better. It is also promote stem because it is cooler. And also it is promote stem because it is fun. Those are the reasons why it is more promote stem.

  • SinningK-Sua
    4/13/2015 - 07:20 p.m.

    Question of the day: Why might this science fair do more to promote STEM than other science fairs?

    My Answer: I think that this Science Fair might do more to promote STEM than other Science Fairs by having more brave young students present impressive things to the President. I think that I would not be able to do that with even other partners around me to the President. They practice and study, find solutions to create things and turn their own twist to them. I think that because it is fascinating that young scholars like me can do beyond of what I can do like the study of how to make a volcano explode with mentos and soda pop. Finally, I think that these young educated students have the talent and strength to make these possibilities happen in front of the President. that is what I think of this Science Fair and better than other Science Fairs.

  • LiCausiM-Sua
    4/13/2015 - 07:39 p.m.

    It might do more to promote STEM then other since fairs because it is focused on diversity. I know this because it said it in the 6th paragraph. It is focused on diversity because they want more people to be sintctists in the world. It is also focused on diversity so that people all around the would can have some fun. So these are the reasons that the sincefair has mor STEM then other sincefairs.

  • CooperT-Sua
    4/13/2015 - 07:51 p.m.

    Obama is putting millions of dollars into the STEM program. The lego machine can help people who are paralyzed and arthritic patients to read books. These new invention can help other people. These are very helpful inventions people made. We need more people involved in the STEM program so new ideas and inventions can be discovered.

  • KnightA-Sua
    4/13/2015 - 08:21 p.m.

    Obama used the science fair event to highlight efforts to encourage more students to pursue education in STEM. There's a $90 million campaign to expand STEM opportunities to underrepresented youth. Its goal is to encourage promising early-career scientists to stay on track. More than 100 colleges and universities have committed to training 20,000 engineers.
    Altogether, the new STEM commitments have brought total financial and material support for these programs to $1 billion.

  • KapapaZ-Sua
    4/13/2015 - 09:36 p.m.

    There are lots of different science fair what might this science fair do more to promote than other science fairs. This science fair might be different than other science fairs because this is for girl scout. This science fair might do more promote because of that. Girl scout's let girls of any ages do girl scout so that might have more people. These are my 3 reasons why I think that his science fair do more to promote than other science fairs

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