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
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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

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COMMENTS (20)
  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    3/29/2015 - 09:49 a.m.

    I believe Obama is one of our best presidents for this reason. He is always interested in what the young people are up to today and every other day. It amazes me how much people don't see how he acts around today's youth.

  • kylen1-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:00 p.m.

    This science fair in particular can do many things to promote STEM more than other science fairs. First and foremost is the pride that applicants receive when they show the president of the United States their creation. This memory and pride can go a long way in giving the creator self-confidence and courage in inventing and going on with their invention to do great things. The science fair would also be seen by many and reported about which could bring potential investors and benefactors to the inventors and their inventions. This can cause quite the decent support for their ideas such as financial support.

  • taylora1-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    This may be an easy question to answer. President Obama really enjoyed the machine that the 17 year old brought in to show him. STEM likes innovation, and new ideas. This science fair is a great way for students who had many new ideas to show what they wanted to create. The ideals of STEM allow young creative minds to show on what they thought would be cool to make.

  • danay-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    This science fair promotes STEM more than other science fairs is because Obama is one of the overseers of that science fair. Not to mention Obama donates money to STEM and starts campaigns to spread opportunities to kids around the world. The level of commitment to STEM within the science fair is more than other's. The science fair encourages students to be more engaged to STEM and for what it stands for ( Science, Technology, Education and Maths.)

  • danielb1-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    This science fair promotes these fields of study more than other science fairs because Obama is there and it is held at the White House which prompts media attention. The media attention promotes envy in parents in whom want to have their children go to these events. This being said, all that leads to these fields being forced upon said children and a perpetual state of unhappiness ensues.

  • daytond-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    Steam is a company or cause that helps our education grow in our society its important cause for many students or adults, to make there dreams come true so they can full fill there jobs that they would want to be when they are older. Since they had this amazing science fair at the white house with the president of united states, it would get more attention and be a bigger and better chance to promote it

  • garyh1-Old
    3/30/2015 - 01:14 p.m.

    STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. STEM helps the youth or people that are fans of science to learn more things about science. STEM is more about education, it is not a competition. It benefit every student that learn science.

  • EmmaBender
    3/30/2015 - 01:41 p.m.

    I think it will bring more people to STEM and more people will become involved. Also, I think it is really cool to even impress the president of our country.

  • dylanputman-Goo
    4/06/2015 - 08:45 a.m.

    This science fair does more to promote STEM than other science fairs. Text from the article states, "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." The article also states, "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." Having someone like the president helps to support a cause.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    4/14/2015 - 07:16 p.m.

    I think that it is cool for some young scientists to impress Barrack Obama at the White House because the young scientists wanted to show their inventions to impress Barrack Obama because of the machines that they built with stuffs from their house or at the lab. Well if the science inventions are impressing Barrack Obama, I think that he would always ask questions about how they got the idea about the machine.

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