Beginning in 2010, President Obama established a tradition of welcoming K–12 students from around the country to the White House for the White House Science Fair, recognizing the extraordinary work that our Nation’s young people are already doing in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and inspiring others to get excited about and involved in these important subjects.
This year, we at the White House are going even bigger and celebrating not just the Science Fair, but a whole Week of Science. Here’s some of what we’ve got planned:
But we hope that we won’t be the only ones getting psyched about science this week—we hope that you’ll join in, too! There are so many ways to dive into science and other STEM topics at home, at school, at work, in your communities, and beyond, from conducting your own science experiment to hosting a screening of a great science-themed movie to chatting with the scientists you know about the work they do. Check out this toolkit for ideas and examples of ways to get started, or come up with your own. And if you do something cool and science-y this week, you can share it with us on social media using the hashtag #WeekOfScience.
Need even more motivation to get involved? We invite you to read on to hear some from some past White House Science Fair participants on how their STEM experiences have impacted them, and to think about what STEM means to you.
STEM inspires me to change the way I approach small tasks as well as larger ones. I use the same troubleshooting methods I would in lab for small problems such as a broken light bulb in my room. Through my scientific journey thus far, I have learned so much more than a simple textbook could hope to explain because I have made mistakes and learned how to solve them on my own through many trials. (Jessika Baral, 2013)
I’ve always thought the most incredible thing about science is the power that thinking through a problem and coming up with a solution and testing it can have on the world. As a high school student in lab, I remember looking at an experimental result that just looked like blobs of black ink on a piece of film and feeling so excited about what these results could mean for patients with ovarian cancer. That sense of awe and the impact you can have with science is something I’ve been lucky to hold into over the past few years, and I hope to pass on to many other students. (Shree Bose, 2012)
One of the most memorable moments during my attendance at the White House Science fair was being able to see that youth my age weren’t just interested in current fashion trends or reality TV shows, but that they too cared about changing the world and making it a better place. It truly inspired me to be a part of that change. (Laura Chavez, 2015)
I think that taking part in STEM projects and opportunities is something that anyone can do and it ultimately has the ability to change lives. One of the best parts of the overall experience was realizing that even the ideas of kids from a small town can make a difference in the world. I am thankful for the opportunity and will cherish those memories for years to come. (Julia Johnson-Jaramillo, 2015)
The coolest thing about STEM and inventing is that is helps society progress. I find it amazing to think about the courage it must take to present something you invented to the world. If no one had this kind of courage, I feel as if many technologies we benefit from and take for granted would not be available to us. (Eric Long, 2014)
When I learned I would get to go to the White House to share my [STEM] experiences with others,…I was in a state of disbelief. That state of disbelief however, was not even close to the awe I felt walking around the fair, looking at all of these amazing projects and accomplishments of other kids, many of whom were younger than myself… All I could think was, “Yeah... This is what everybody should strive for. This is why we should continue to excite the next generation about the endless possibilities within STEM.” (Evan Ostrow, 2010)
What inspires me is that there's so much information and research that's it's possible to learn about, and the fact that I can be a part of that is amazing. I feel like STEM is a story that's still being written, and I'd love to be a part of this story, and I'd encourage other kids to join in as well. (Alex Spiride, 2014)
Receiving recognition for our early efforts in STEM from someone as extraordinary as the President has made a lifelong impression on my teammates and me. It was like being told from on high, “This is what you are supposed to do with your life—invent solutions to real world problems.” (Austin Sherrill Veseliza, 2010)
The reason I love science is it gives us the opportunity to answer our own questions. The more you know, the more you wonder—it’s an infinite process and the discovery phase is a great way to blend curiosity, creativity, and analytics. (Brittany Wenger, 2013)
Hannah Safford is a SINSI Fellow at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy