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White House Science Fair: Recognizing the Importance of Scientists, Engineers, and Inventors

President Obama today will honor over 100 students from 40 different competitions around the country who have excelled in science and math

[Editor’s note: Tune in to this morning to check out President Obama's visit to today’s White House Science Fair starting at 10:35 a.m. EST. You can also  ask your questions of Bill Nye this afternoon during a special White House Office Hours at 2:00 p.m. EST]

Since the first days of the United States, our leaders have recognized the importance of science and especially engineering. Several among the founding fathers were inventors and scientists themselves. George Washington continually experimented with farm crops. Thomas Jefferson’s estate is replete with weather and time-keeping instruments. Benjamin Franklin made discoveries and developed inventions that are celebrated even today. Abraham Lincoln, nominally a lawyer, held a patent. It should come as no surprise that our Constitution calls for the legal protection of scientific inquiry and discovery.

It is in this spirit that President Obama held the first White House Science Fair in October 2010. The second one is today. The President will honor over 100 students from 40 different competitions around the country who have excelled in science and math. I’ll be there along with several well-respected educators and leaders from the science and engineering community.

Most of our successful corporations, the ones that touch our lives everyday like Amazon, Apple, Boeing, Ford, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Pay-Pal, and now Facebook, were started by engineers—people who use science and math to create things and solve problems.  For the United States to remain the world leader in technological innovation, we need more engineers and more scientists.  We need more people, who can do math, design software, and create new applications for machines that have yet to come into existence.

If we choose not to engage in fundamental research—not to pursue new technologies and systems, not to discover new properties of numbers and atomic structures,not to explore the oceans and outer space—we leave that work to others, to emerging countries, who have seen from the outside what science and technology can do for a society.

It is in this spirit that I am proud and very much looking forward to being a part of today’s White House Science Fair.  I hope to encourage the young people in attendance and their many fellow student competitors back home to change the world. 

Bill Nye is the Science Guy and CEO of the Planetary Society -- he was at the White House for the first ever Science Fair -- check it out below: