President Obama today honored some of the nation’s brightest students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and breakthrough basic research during the first-ever White House Science Fair. The students – winners of a variety of national STEM and research competitions – represent “the promise of America,” said Obama during a reception held in the East Room of the White House.
“You all are incredibly bright young men and women,” he told the honorees. Likening them to early scientific pioneers, including Einstein and Tesla, Obama described the students as “bold men and women who took chances…who believe all things are possible.”
The STEM and research competition winners included students who developed a solar-powered car; light therapy to activate a drug to kill cancer cells; a water purifier to bring clean water to remote areas; and a SMART wheel device to combat the problem of texting while driving.
Obama said if athletes are brought to White House to celebrate their victories, then students who win science competitions ought to be recognized as well.
“Nobody pours Gatorade on your head if you win a science competition,” he jokingly told the crowd. But, he added, the nation ought to recognize outstanding math and science students because their work will help keep the U.S. globally competitive.
The president said he was not satisfied with international rankings that place the U.S. 21st in science and 25th in math throughout the world.
“It is unacceptable,” he said. “America doesn’t play for second.”
APS has been working closely with our partner societies via the American Institute of Physics and Congress to address STEM education issues in the United States. Both the House and Senate versions of the America COMPETES reauthorization bill includes a provision to form a STEM education coordination committee under the Office of Science & Technology Policy to better organize the federal government’s efforts across all science-related agencies.
The crowd attending today’s event included various dignitaries and well-known science TV personalities, such as Norm Augustine, former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin and Bill Nye, “the science guy, ” respectively.
Read more about the fair and president’s plans to improve STEM education and basic research: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/10/18/president-obama-host-white-house-science-fair.
Check out information about this weekend’s USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/