11-Year-Old Web Series Star Inspiring Girls in the Name of Science
The host of "Sylvia's Super-Awesome Mini Maker Show" on YouTube is a pint-sized problem solver with a big personality.
Sylvia Todd teaches do-it-yourself science projects for kids - how to etch a copper circuit board, how to launch a rocket and even how to turn a teddy bear into a backpack.
She can relate to her audience. She's a kid herself - just 11 years old. So far, her 20 videos have received a total of more than 1.5 millions views.
She got interested in D.I.Y. science projects after her father took her to a Maker Faire in Marin County, Calif. She was 5 years old. He started filming her projects and things just sort of took off from there.
"When I was 8, I wanted to make a little show thing and put it on YouTube," she said.
Her first one showed how to make something called a Drawdio, a combination pencil-harmonica. She was a natural.
"I really liked doing it," she told ABC News.
In April, the Auburn, Calif., sixth-grader won a silver medal for her watercolor-painting robot in the world's largest robotics competition. Last week she was invited to Washington to present that invention at the White House Science Fair and met President Obama. Her YouTube viewers donated money to pay for the trip.
"I was really nervous at first," she said of meeting Obama. "But it was very amazing and very life-changing to actually meet the president."
Her show is a labor of love for her and her dad. In fact, the whole family pitches in.
"Me and my dad put together the scripts, and he's the guy behind the camera," Sylvia told ABC News. "I get help from my siblings, my mom, but me and my dad do most of the show."
At a time when the U.S. lags far behind other countries in science education, especially for girls, Sylvia is a role model.
She recently gave a TED talk, encouraging teachers to make science more fun.
"I've gotten e-mails and tweets from kids and adults or parents," she said. "I've gotten some teachers who are like, 'I've showed your show in class. It's very good. Thank you for doing this.'"
Sylvia said those messages made her proud.
"I really want to inspire girls and kids and adults to get out there and make something," she said. "Like I say at the end of each show, I say, 'Go out there and make something!'"