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White House Hosts A Science Fair

Winners: Exhibit of student projects emphasizes importance of science education

by David J. Hanson
October 25, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 43

Credit: Newscom
President Obama speaking to students at the first-ever White House science fair.
Credit: Newscom
President Obama speaking to students at the first-ever White House science fair.

President Barack Obama hosted the first-ever science fair at the White House on Oct. 18, featuring 75 award-winning science students from around the nation. The President used the event to promote his Administration's support for science, technology, engineering, and math education.

The work of these students "is a testament to the potential that awaits when we inspire young people to take part in the scientific enterprise,” Obama told the attending crowd, which included federal officials, invited educators, and several Nobel Prize winners.

One of the students honored was Nathan S. Benjamin, a silver medalist in the 2009 International Chemistry Olympiad for high school students, which is supported by ACS. Benjamin now attends MIT.

The science fair was part of Obama's Educate to Innovate campaign, announced last November (C&EN Online Latest News, Nov. 24, 2009). The President said the goal of this campaign is to move U.S. students from the middle to the top of the pack in international math and science achievement over the next decade. Other parts of this initiative included National Lab Day, which happened on May 12, and the Race to the Top, a national competition for states to receive federal funding by producing innovative math and science education programs.

Obama announced two initiatives at the science fair. One is a three-year, $14.2 million program from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to inspire students to study science and engineering. The second is a private-public partnership through which companies will use an online campaign to show young people the array of jobs they offer to scientists and engineers.

The President also used the White House science fair to publicize the USA Science & Engineering Festival on the National Mall, which ran until Oct. 24 (C&EN, Oct. 11, page 12). The festival aimed to show how science and technology intersect our daily lives. ACS was one of the 550 companies and organizations participating in the event.



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