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)
  • KevinL1122
    3/26/2015 - 09:24 p.m.

    This science fair might do more to promote STEM than other science fairs because the president comes to the fair, and he might tell the government about the things he saw and why they should fund STEM because of the amazing things the kids make.

  • KevinL1122
    3/26/2015 - 09:25 p.m.

    This science fair might do more to promote STEM than other science fairs because the president comes to the fair, and he might tell the government about the things he saw and why they should fund STEM because of the amazing things the kids make.

  • Nylasiab201
    3/26/2015 - 09:36 p.m.

    Im very impressed by the people who made this. I think that it takes a lot to impress President Obama. Also, it took a lot of hard work to make the project but the reward probably made it all worth it because do a lot of people get to see the President of the United States.

  • LucasU-5
    3/26/2015 - 10:24 p.m.

    The article is about how a very special and new fair that had been created by President Obama himself had led him to be astounded by the immense creativity of the young children. However the President was most astounded by the lego page turner that allowed paralytics to read. After this Obama had overall decided to put 1 billion dollars into the study of STEM.

  • valorgosch
    3/27/2015 - 12:58 a.m.

    Young engineers made a visit to the white house to show off a little device that they had created which was simply a machine turning pages but it also demonstrated the ability of the young engineers ability to create. This little even was hosted in honor of the president funding stem programs for minorities and other things which brougt in a 100 millon dollars bringing the overall funding for these things to a billion dollars.

  • JesseE-2
    3/27/2015 - 01:54 a.m.

    An annual science fair promoting efforts to support education in technology, math, science, and engineering was held in the White House recently. Barack Obama observed the variety of unique projects and breakthroughs and expressed the most interest in a device created by a group of kindergarteners and first graders from Tulsa, Oklahoma that can automatically and efficiently turn the pages of a book. Constructed as a small Lego machine, it is eventually intended to allow immobile individuals to read a book with greater ease. The event is one of a variety of efforts launched by Obama to promote STEM education.

    I found this article to be fairly entertaining and informative. Although the information is not evenly dispersed throughout the text, I enjoyed reading about the event and would like to know more about the variety of "breakthroughs" displayed at the fair.

  • Kaylab-5
    3/27/2015 - 01:57 a.m.

    This article is about the annual science fair held at the White House. President Obama was very impressed with the outcome this year. He was especially adoring the Lego that turned pages for you. This invention was made by kindergarteners and first graders. This article shows that imagination can always pay off.

  • ChaseG-5
    3/27/2015 - 01:59 a.m.

    This article is about the science fair at the white house. Every year kids present their science projects to the president. One of these inventions was the Lego page turner. Which helps people that are disabled read books. Obama extremely supports STEM. I think STEM should be an important topic in America because it can change our future. I also think supporting STEM financially is a good idea for the better of America.

  • brandkelly
    3/27/2015 - 02:07 a.m.

    In this article you learn about a young boy who was invited to a event at the White House the young boy was a scientist who impressed the president of the United States of America I think that is cool with someone so young impresse d somebody so important.

  • brandkelly
    3/27/2015 - 02:08 a.m.

    In this article you learn about a young boy who was invited to a event at the White House the young boy was a scientist who impressed the president of the United States of America I think that is cool with someone so young impresse d somebody so important.

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