2:21 P.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  And welcome to the White House Science Fair, one of my favorite events during the course of the year.

 

And I just had a chance to see some of the outstanding exhibits that have been put forward by some of these amazing young people.  And let me just start by saying, in my official capacity as President:  This stuff is really cool.  (Laughter.)  And I want to thank these incredible young people for explaining to me what the heck is going on.  (Laughter.)

 

Every one of you is enormously talented, obviously, but there’s also a community of people who helped all these young people succeed -- dedicated teachers who believed in them and challenged them to do even more; all of them have loving parents and mentors and family.  So I want to not only give the young people a big round of applause, but all the parents and teachers and principals and everybody who was involved, give yourselves a big round of applause as well.  (Applause.) 

 

Of course, primarily we’re here to celebrate these young scientists and visionaries who dream, and create, and innovate; who ask the question, why not?  Why not try something better?  Something that’s faster; something that helps more people.  And that drive, that refusal to give up, that focus on the future is part of what makes America great.  And all of you are participants in this long line of inventors and creators that have made this the most dynamic economy and the most dynamic country on Earth.

 

And that’s one of the things that I’ve been focused on as President is how do we create an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math.  And I’m happy to have so many key members of my science team who are here today, including my Chief Science Advisor, John Holdren, who is here.  There’s John.  NIH Director Francis Collins.  There’s Francis right there, the tall guy.  We’ve got Acting Director of the National Science Foundation, Cora Marrett, who is here.  There’s Cora.  And we’ve got real-life astronaut and NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden.  Where’s Charlie?  There he is, right there.

 

So we need to make this a priority to train an army of new teachers in these subject areas, and to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve.  And one of the things that I’m concerned about is that, as a culture, we’re great consumers of technology, but we’re not always properly respecting the people who are in the labs and behind the scenes creating the stuff that we now take for granted.  And we’ve got to give the millions of Americans who work in science and technology not only the kind of respect they deserve but also new ways to engage young people

    

So today, I’m proud to announce a new AmeriCorps program that are going to -- (applause) --  that’s our Community Service Director.  (Laughter.)  She is a little bit biased, but I like that in her.  She’s got that kind of get-up-and-go.  A new AmeriCorps program that’s going to connect more professional scientists and engineers to young students who might follow in their footsteps.  And other people are stepping up, too. 

 

Some of America’s biggest tech companies are encouraging their workers to mentor young students.  You’ve got media organizations that are working with athletes like outstanding wide receiver Victor Cruz from the New York Giants, who’s here to highlight how critical math and science are to sports.  (Applause.)  And, by the way, since Victor is here, I don’t know -- did you see the exhibit about the whole cooling shoulder pads and helmet that these young guys did?  And they had a whole slogan that said you can succeed in athletics and science.  They were very impressive.  Had the little Gatorade so you -- (laughter) -- you didn’t even have to, like, reach for your Gatorade; you could just -- it would automatically transmit itself into your helmet.  (Laughter.)  It could work. 

 

We’ve got non-profits that are helping to organize 1,000 summer learning events this year.  They all realize how important science, technology, engineering, and math are to our future.  So we are doing this together.

 

And, after all, the science fair projects of today could become the products and businesses of tomorrow.  Three students -- Evan Jackson, Alec Jackson, and Caleb Robinson -- those are the folks that I talked about.  They’re from Flippen Elementary School.  Keep in mind, they’re in third, fourth grade, and they’ve already got this idea for COOL Pads so that Victor doesn’t get overheated when he’s out on the field.  But think about that.  If you’re inventing stuff in the third grade, what are you going to do by the time you get to college?  (Laughter.) 

 

And we just had the University of Alabama’s national championship football team here last week, and I know they’re interested in this idea because it gets really hot down in Alabama.

 

A lot of these students are working on the next generation of medical research.  So listen to this story.  When pancreatic cancer took the life of Jack Andraka’s close family friend, it inspired Jack to look for new ways to improve detection.  So Jack requested space from research labs to pursue his work -- nearly 200 times.  Two hundred times he asked.  Two hundred times he was turned down.  Finally, with the help of some folks at Johns Hopkins, he got the research facilities that he needed, developed a pancreatic cancer test that is faster, cheaper and more sensitive than the test that came before it -- which is not bad for a guy who is just barely old enough to drive.  So where's Jack?  There he is.  Jack, stand up, because that's pretty spectacular stuff.  (Applause.)  That's great work.  I don't know what you guys were doing when you were juniors in high school.  (Laughter.)  That's what Jack is doing.  (Laughter.)  Better than I was doing, I promise you.  (Laughter.)