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. They had come to the White House. They showcased breakthroughs ranging 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 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. 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, 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. 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 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 (92)
  • carsonp-And
    3/26/2015 - 03:33 p.m.

    This article is about a machine that the white house is making. It flips pages for kids that have disabilities that cant flip the pages. Barack Obama and other inventors are working on it right now.

  • claytonju-And
    3/26/2015 - 03:35 p.m.

    I wonder how they made this machine and how long it took them to make it. And i wish i could meet President Barack Obama or i wish to be president.

  • whitneys-And
    3/26/2015 - 03:46 p.m.

    These girl scouts created a machine that turned the pages of any book, they were offered to come to the white house to show the president. He was amazed by their invention.

  • MGallagher
    3/26/2015 - 06:37 p.m.

    "How did you figure this out?" asked the new machines inventors. "We had a brainstorming session," one of the small six year old girls replied. It was a new machine that allowed paralyzed people to read books. It was made by girl scouts and made of legos. Obama launched "Educate to Innovate" in 2009. His plan to encourage the study science technology, math, and engineering.

  • MasonK-4
    3/26/2015 - 07:02 p.m.

    Legolas would be proud of these girls. Recently, a group of kindergartners visited President Obama for winning their science fair. They developed many things, like a carbon dioxide battery. But most impressively, a machine of legos that can allow paralyzed people to read. Their prototype only allows the reader to read 3 sentences a page, but it is a prototype afterall. President Obama said that he will be funding more money to go to STEM, (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) to help underrepresented groups. I think that machine sounds very cool and I'd love to work on it, or at least brainsession on it.

  • GChelsea-Cas
    3/26/2015 - 07:32 p.m.

    I thought that the article was really interesting it's pretty cool to see how kids younger than me are able to make the coolest things I've seen. It's funny how younger kids can think of all these things that sometimes scientists can't. I think the Lego page turner will help kids like it attends to with kids who have disabilities and this will expand education to them I'm sure they will enjoy that as well. I wish more people would be able to think like these kids because all they wanted to do was take a simple idea and help others they didn't think about selfishness or things such as jet packs or high-tech stuff all they wanted to do was spread the ability of reading to those who can't read themselves or have trouble reading. Imagine how happy a kid who may be lost his hands or has paralyze them will be when you can finally read about things such as Jack and the beanstalk or a classic tale such as the Wizard of Oz for a little girl.

  • JacobH-2
    3/26/2015 - 08:11 p.m.

    This article is about how a group of "kid scientist" created many this that would help the world. They invented carbon dioxide batteries, a keystroke identity system and a machine that helped the disabled read by turning the pages for them. It also tells how they impressed President Obama.

    I think that it is amazing how the government is starting to give more money to education programs.

  • StephanieS-3
    3/26/2015 - 08:38 p.m.

    Two girl scouts in first grade came into the White House recently to show Obama their invention. Impressed, Obama loved the idea and studied the machine. It was meant for people with disabilities to be able to read books. It inspired him to donate money to the STEM foundation. He said the fair is one of the most fun events held in the White House. I think this is an amazing idea. I am so inspired.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    3/26/2015 - 09:01 p.m.

    That is sooo cool! I wonder how he made that! I wish i could build like that, but I'm usually pretty bad at stuff like that.

  • HenryS-3
    3/26/2015 - 09:13 p.m.

    This article is about Obama and his movement towards education in technology. He was inspired by kindergartners and first graders from Tulsa. When they showed him their new technology for paralyzed or arthritic patients to read books despite their disabilities, and showcased breakthroughs ranging from spinal implants to carbon-dioxide powered batteries. I love the fact that he is going to donate 1 Bil. to STEM class funds. I take a STEM class my self.

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