"One of the things I find so inspiring about these young thinkers is that they look at all these seemingly intractable problems as something that we can solve. There is a confidence when you are pursuing science. They don't consider age a barrier. They don't think, well, that's just the way things are. They're not afraid to try things and ask tough questions."President Obama (2016 White House Science Fair)
While we as a country have made real progress to improve STEM education and to bolster science in the past 8 years, we must continue to invest in our future to realize our country’s full potential.
At the 2016 White House Science Fair, 9-year-old presenter Jacob Leggette asked President Obama if he had a Kid Science Advisor. The President loved the idea, and suggested that his science advisor Dr. John Holdren ask young people to share their thoughts on what they think is important in science, technology, and innovation because kids see first-hand what’s working inside and outside of their classrooms and have ideas about how to better engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
In the weeks following the Science Fair, the White House launched the Kids Science Advisor campaign, and more than 2,500 ideas about science and STEM education were submitted from youth across the country. Organizations have also responded, creating new opportunities to elevate the contributions of students to science and technology such as the recent expansion of the student Chief Science Officers program to more than 600 schools representing grades kindergarten through high school.
In the months since, OSTP staff have eagerly read the students’ input and today, John Holdren and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith hosted a conference call open to all students who submitted suggestions and ideas.
On the call, Holdren and Smith discussed topics that were of interest to students from all over the country, highlighted a few of the submissions, described how the President requests and receives advice from scientists and technologists, and answered questions from students and teachers on the call.
Tomorrow, this conversation will continue in person when the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will welcome some of the more than 2,500 Kid Science Advisors to a meeting where they will discuss their ideas with Dr. John Holdren, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, National Science Foundation Director France Córdova, and former astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly.
Logan Beatty – 14 years old – Land O’Lakes, Florida
Logan is in 9th grade in the International Baccalaureate program at Land O'Lakes High School in Land O'Lakes, Florida. Logan is curious about innovations based on nature, and particularly interested in ocean exploration where significant numbers of species and regions remain undiscovered. He has experienced the reality of human impact on the oceans as a regular volunteer for beach cleanup efforts, including after the 2010 Gulf BP Oil Spill.
Sage Foreman – 12 years old – Goodyear, Arizona
Sage is in 7th grade at Centerra Mirage STEM Academy in Goodyear, Arizona, where he is an elected student Chief Science Officer. He believes businesses can and should do more to reach out to youth and support STEM opportunities for all kids. He has helped get funding for his school's robotics teams and promotes science and tech broadly in his community by publishing a newsletter about local Arizona SciTech events and inviting businesses or organizations to present at his school. He'd like to one day become a college professor.
Anahi Gandara-Rodriguez – 15 years old – Denver, Colorado
Anahi is a sophomore at KIPP Collegiate High School in Denver, Colorado and a founding member of the HackSchool Leadership and Social Innovation Team and is an advocate for authentic learning through community problem solving. She is currently prototyping a "smart" cane for blind people with the goal of using technology to make a positive impact on people's lives.
Tylar Hedrick – 14 years old – Nampa, Idaho
Tylar is a Freshman at Skyview High School in Nampa, Idaho, and wants to see more hands-on opportunities and competitions for students to utilize science and technology to solve the challenges both in their local communities and at national scale by using the competitive spirit to inspire new ideas, similar to the FabSLAM digital fabrication competition in which she participated earlier this year. She has expressed her belief that her generation has the opportunity and responsibility to inspire changes that will improve lives.
Alexis Leggette – 5 years old – Baltimore, Maryland
Alexis lives in Baltimore and wants for more girls to have the opportunity to pursue science and to become inventors. She thinks society would be better if more girls got science diplomas. She particularly loves hands-on experiences she has had such as exploring everyday chemistry and wants to continue doing science in her future.
Jacob Leggette – 9 years old – Baltimore, Maryland
Jacob lives in Baltimore and participated in the 2016 White House Science Fair where he shared creations made through additive and subtractive manufacturing. Jacob met President Obama at the Science Fair, and asked him why the President does not have a Kid Science Advisor, which the President thought was a pretty great idea. Jacob is interested in helping close the digital divide through increased access to technology for all communities.
Jamie Milota – 17 years old – Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Jamie is a senior at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jamie has shown a dedication to STEM education not just for herself but for others as she has spearheaded projects to create physics curriculum designed around inquiry and questioning, lead a team that developed and taught lessons on coding and hardware for middle and elementary school students, and developed a game experience to help promote economically unique neighborhoods.
Alex Poret – 16 years old – Sparta, New Jersey
Alex is a junior at Sparta High School in Sparta, New Jersey, where she participates in the Robotics club, is a co-president of the Biodiesel club, and is a founding member of the Women in Science club. This past summer, Alex participated in the Liberty Science Center’s Partners in Science program where she was paired with a professor from Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, assisting with medical research. Alex plans to major in biomedical engineering before continuing her education in a joint M.D./Ph.D. program.
Alana Rieg – 14 years old – Manhattan Beach, California
Alana is in 9th grade attending Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California. Alana loves math and is interested in innovations addressing city planning and architecture, as well as improving transit systems for environmental sustainability. She became passionate about transportation issues from experiencing traffic gridlock in her hometown of Los Angeles.
Khristian Ward – 10 years old – Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
Khristian is a 5th grader at Roye-Williams Elementary in Havre de Grace, Maryland, and loves invention, launching model rockets, and aerospace. He also attends a program under NASA for Science Engineering Math and Aerospace at Morgan State University and has participated in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Mission Specialist and the Army Research Lab GEMS program. Khristian hopes to one day build rockets and become a space engineer.
Peng Zhou – 17 years old – Cleveland, Ohio
Peng attends Design Lab High School and early college at Cleveland State, Ohio. He joined the robotics team sophomore year and was on the championship team for the world competition this year. He is interested in a career in computer engineering and currently serves as teaching assistant to other students. He is interested in school being more like the real world.
Andrew Coy is Senior Advisor for Making at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Erik Martin is a Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy