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 as 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 who came to the White House to showcase breakthroughs ranging from spinal implants to carbon-dioxide powered batteries to a keystroke identity system that can backup computer password securities.

Obama used the science fair event to highlight private-sector efforts to encourage more students from underrepresented groups 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.

While awed by all of the displays, none seemed to delight Obama more than the Lego page-turner.

Obama allowed as to how the device might need a little adjustment given that, at the 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 to encourage promising early-career scientists to stay on track and a $90 million campaign to expand STEM opportunities to underrepresented youth, such as 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, addressing 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 have promised to expand high-quality STEM education programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year.

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

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

Filed Under:  
Assigned 10 times


COMMENTS (20)
  • treyb-Che
    3/26/2015 - 01:58 p.m.

    Obama launched educa te to innovate his effort to encourage the study of science, technology , engineering and math in 2009. Obama said the fair is the one the most fun events.

  • NickB-2
    3/26/2015 - 02:32 p.m.

    This article is about robotics. A group of girl scouts visited President Obama this week, showing him a prototype of their robot. It is designed to turn the pages of a book. It will eventually help disabled people be able to read a book, even if they cannot move their arms. I think this is really impressive.

  • tylerha-And
    3/26/2015 - 03:55 p.m.

    The reason that this school promotes STEM more than any other science fair is because the people of STEM believe that you need to promote them more than congradulate them.

  • JDevon-Cas
    3/26/2015 - 04:24 p.m.

    This is a great thing to do to get more kids into STEM. It gives kids a once in a lifetime experience and shows them how important STEM is. Bringing the kids to the White House is more exciting than a regular science fair so, it gets kids excited.

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    3/26/2015 - 10:02 p.m.

    I would love to be that talented at science! I have always dreamed of going to the Smithsonian museums and seeing all of the science exhibits. I hope these young girls continue with their science careers, because they have such a great thing going for them!

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    3/26/2015 - 10:02 p.m.

    I would love to be that talented at science! I have always dreamed of going to the Smithsonian museums and seeing all of the science exhibits. I hope these young girls continue with their science careers, because they have such a great thing going for them!

  • chrishias-boo
    3/27/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

    This science fair promote other STEM programs because it can help create more critical and hands on skills that can help you out in the real world.

  • michaelh-boo
    3/27/2015 - 11:39 a.m.

    i don't even like science but these machines are cool! this type of stuff is going to make students want to learn more , and get a better education. also president Obama saying their inventions are cool is boosting their confidence. i think this was a great for the kids to experience.

  • BrigitteA-3
    3/27/2015 - 04:19 p.m.

    A couple of kindergardeners and first graders came up with a new invention. A lego page turner for books. President Obama was shocked to see these little inventors bring in their creation, turning pages in books. These science fair winners got to share their inventions with the president. I think it is really cool that these little kids could make an invention that the president got to see.

  • BrigitteA-3
    3/27/2015 - 04:19 p.m.

    A couple of kindergardeners and first graders came up with a new invention. A lego page turner for books. President Obama was shocked to see these little inventors bring in their creation, turning pages in books. These science fair winners got to share their inventions with the president. I think it is really cool that these little kids could make an invention that the president got to see.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT