Yesterday was the last White House Science Fair, a Super Bowl for kids all across the country who have proven their nerdy worth like championship-level athletes. Nerdist was there, and we swear we weren’t crying, it was just dust in our eyes for a few minutes straight.
President Obama (speaking above) started the fair a few years into his administration to highlight and support STEM — Science Technology Engineering and Math — education. And like a nerdy Super Bowl victory, the all-stars were out in force to congratulate the grade school and high school-aged kids. Adam Savage of Mythbusters and Tested.com was on hand to interview young roboticists and makers. Bill Nye the Science Guy was taking selfies in front of the presidential podium. And Randall Munroe, creator of the wonderful xkcd webcomic, was there shaking hands with teenagers who crafted everything from bionic limbs to inexpensive tests for the Ebola virus.
“Some of the best moments I’ve had as president have come from science and the White House Science Fair,” Obama said to a packed press room. You should believe him too. Yesterday’s fair was the biggest ever, featuring over 130 kids from 30 different states. It also marked the President’s progress on initiatives to support computer science education, engender climate change literacy, and extend a welcoming hand to those underrepresented in STEM fields, namely young women and minorities.
You couldn’t help but be impressed by the kids who had their science fair-style posters and demonstrations lining the White House hallways. Gabriel Mesa was barely old enough to be pubescent, but he came up with a shoe insert that could alleviate diabetic nerve pain using piezoelectric material. With every step, a person would bend and squeeze this material underfoot, which then curiously creates electrical current. If commercialized, it could help millions. That’s exactly what Mesa is working on right now. He’s 16.
The President, to his credit, has supported science education from the start. The White House Science Fair is only the most visible of his efforts. Now that the fair is ending (possibly for good depending on the next president’s proclivities), it’s upon us nerds to take up the flag and run with it.
All things considered, Obama will likely go down as our nerdiest president, serious about STEM and visibly fascinated by science. “A century ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves.” Obama explained to the crowd. “This year a team of scientists finally proved him right.”
“The building from which they measured this gravitational wave grew by…like…a little bit. And then it kinda shrank back…which is really weird, and really interesting.”
Indeed, Mr. President. Indeed.
Stay tuned for our on-site video where we get hands-on with some of the Science Fair projects!
Images: Kyle Hill