Obama Calls for Annual Science Fair: Achievement Should be Recognized like NCAA Championship Win

Nov 23, 2009 2:14pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: In order to show kids “how cool science can be,” President Obama announced today that he will convene an annual science fair starting next year. The winners of national competitions in science and technology will be annually invited to the White House as a congratulatory event equal to those, the president said, that are normally reserved for sports stars. “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.” Today’s announcement came hand-in-hand with the “Educate to Innovate” campaign launched by the White House to increase the importance of math and science education in the classroom: with an initial commitment by the private sector of more than $260 million. “Students will launch rockets, construct miniature windmills, and get their hands dirty.  They'll have the chance to build and create — and maybe destroy just a little bit — to see the promise of being the makers of things, and not just the consumers of things.” The president said that for far too long the United States has lagged behind the rest of the world in developing young minds apt to math and science – and noted that during his trip last week to Asia he was struck by the difference. Obama recalled that President Lee of South Korea said his bigger challenge in education policy is parents that are too demanding, and the mayor of Shanghai said he had no problem recruiting teachers. “That gives you a sense of what's happening around the world.  There is a hunger for knowledge, an insistence on excellence, a reverence for science and math and technology and learning.  That used to be what we were about.  That's what we're going to be about again.” After his remarks, the President watched a demonstration of the “Cougar Cannon” – a device made by students at Oakton High School designed to scoop up and toss moon rocks. “As President, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering.  And I also want to keep an eye on those robots, in case they try anything,” Mr. Obama joked. -Sunlen Miller

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