Middle school and high school students from across the country descended on the State Dining Room at the White House yesterday to display their award-winning science fair projects and mix with policy-makers, Nobel laureates, and the President of the United States.
This first-ever White House Science Fair is part of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate program to improve American standing in science and math achievement over the next decade.
President Obama said, "In many ways, our future depends on what happens when a young person is engaged in conducting an experiment, or writing a piece of software, or solving a hard math problem, or designing a new gadget."
Among the attendees being honored was Erika DeBenedictis, 18, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who won the top award of $100,000 at the Intel Science Talent Search 2010 for developing a software navigation system to help improve spacecraft travel through the solar system.
The White House Science Fair fulfilled a promise President Obama made in 2009, when he launched the Educate to Innovate campaign: “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you've produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too. Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models, and here at the White House we're going to lead by example. We're going to show young people how cool science can be.”