It's a Prototype! 2016 White House Science Fair
President Barack Obama gets down on his hands and knees as he looks at the inner workings of a robot that plays soccer, built by a team from Blue Bell, Pa., as he tours science projects on display in the State Dining Room of the White House. President Obama hosted the White House Science Fair for winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. October 18, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Editor's Note: We LOVE the White House Science Fairs we've seen under the Obama Administration and regardless who wins the November election, we won't be happy with that new president until we know whether the fairs will continue.
Exhibits at the White House Science Fair 2016 included:
Girls Reach Space with Loki Lego Launcher: Nine-year-old Kimberly and eleven-year-old Rebecca Yeung from Seattle, Washington, built a homemade “spacecraft” out of archery arrows and wood scraps, and launched it into the stratosphere via a helium balloon. Called theLoki Lego Launcher after their late cat and a Lego figurine, the craft recorded location coordinates, temperature, velocity, and pressure and reported the data back to the young inventors on the ground. Kimberly and Rebecca hope to show other children that science and engineering is not only interesting and accessible for kids, but a lot of fun as well.
MiniMaker Creates Toys and Games with Not-So-Pint-Sized Manufacturing Techniques: Nine-year old Jacob Leggette, of Baltimore, Maryland wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way of taking on the Digital Harbor Foundation’s (DHF) MiniMakers challenge. After being introduced to 3D printing, Jacob was hooked and wrote letters to different printer companies, asking if they would donate a 3D printer to him in return for feedback on how easily a then-8-year-old could use their device. His sales pitch worked, and he has been creating toys and games ever since. Jacob's specialty is experimenting with additive and subtractive manufacturing and the combination of the two to create whatever he imagines.
Florida Teen Develops Novel Solution to Pen Pal’s Power Challenge: Hannah Herbst, a 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, was named America's 2015 Top Young Scientist and won the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for creating BEACON, an ocean-energy probe prototype. BEACON — which Hannah created out of a desire to help her nine-year-old pen pal who lives in Ethiopia and lacks a reliable source of power and electricity — seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents. For her ingenuity, Hannah has been featured on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and has received honors from the Office of Naval Research, the Florida Science Teachers Association, and the Society of Women Engineers.
Girl-Powered Programming Brings Literature to Video Games: Olivia Thomas, 18, a home-schooled student from Boise, Idaho, designed a game inspired by her love of literature, winning her accolades at the National STEM Video Game Design Challenge. At 10, Olivia became interested in creating games to express her creativity, and so taught herself to code as a means of interactive storytelling. She became immediately hooked on computer programming and began creating programs within her community to teach other girls how to code. At her virtual school, she mentors students and teachers on technology and was recently awarded a grant by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to start a local game-design program for girls.
Teen Coders Provide Supportive Community for LGBTQ Peers: Navigating gender identity, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation can be an isolating and difficult journey, particularly for high-school students. To create a more positive and welcoming environment, a group of teen programmers created Spectrum, an Android app that aims to provide a social-media network for the LGBTQIA+ community, especially younger users looking for a safe support system. The app was imagined and designed by the team of San Diego, California, teens Siobhan Garry, 17, Mona Fariborzi, 17, Lauren Mori, 17, Bansi Parekh, 17, and McKenna Stamp, 18.
Building More than Robots: South Los Angeles, California, has long been associated with gang violence, drugs, and high-school graduation rates of 60 percent or less. More than 80 percent of its community lives at or below the national poverty level, and 64 percent of kids grow up in single-parent households. In these neighborhoods, nearly 100 percent of students qualify for the Federal Lunch Program. And although crime rates and police chases often drive the headlines here, an inner-city robotics team, represented by Ana Hernendez, 18, and Jason Mares, 17, is helping to finally rewrite them. Team 597 took home the Chairman's Award at the 2015 FIRST Championship in St. Louis — the most prestigious award of the competition, which honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of the FIRST organization. Every team member logs at least 200 hours of community service, adding up to a 6,000-hour team total each year. Team 597 takes into consideration not only their own neighborhood but the global community, as well. They've established a partnership with School in a Bottle, a program focused on advancing technology and constructing environmentally-friendly schools, built from recycled bottles, for children in Guatemala. They also lend a hand to FIRST Robotics Competition teams abroad by sharing their time and resources, helping them to overcome season challenges and most importantly, spreading the message of FIRST. FIRST Robotics Competition Team 597, The Wolverines, certainly build more than robots — they build community.
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