Obama Puts Focus On Girls At Annual White House Science Fair

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The White House just held it’s 4th annual Science Fair, which is an occasion for the kids of America to come to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and show the Chief Executive Officer of the country their science and engineering experiments. This year, there was a particular focus on girls, as there has been a huge push by various STEM industry organizations to get girls excited about careers in this field.

President Obama was on deck to check out the 28 girls, and 25 boys who had projects prepared. Amongst the diverse range of students was a Girl Scout Troop who showed President Obama what they were made of by presenting a “Flood Proof Bridge,” designed with disaster relief in mind.

Look at the face of the Prez, clearly he is impressed that he didn’t recruit these little dynamos to his administration! These girls wore tiaras, proudly representing girly-ness, and are the winners of the Junior FIRST Lego League Challenge.

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17 year-old Ananya Cleetus from Pittsburgh has been working alongside a charity in New Delhi, India, to develop an improved type of prosthetic foot. Three girls from Texas, Cassandra Baquero, 13, Caitlin Gonzolez, 12, and Janessa Leija, 11, worked together to create an app to help visually impaired people navigate unfamiliar spaces based on measurements of a user’s stride and digital building-blueprints. They came up with the idea after wanting to help one of their fellow classmates who is visually impaired. So awesome!

Maria Hanes, 19, from Santa Cruz, California came up with a great experiment which stemmed from dropping her iphone one too many times. The aspiring first female collegiate football coach thought about the expensive rubber cell phone cases which protect phones from breaking when they’re dropped and wants to use that model to design special padding to put in football players’ helmets, saving them from many possibly injuries. She is calling her invention the ‘concussion cushion’.

And among this stellar line up of girls who are literally changing the world already in their teen and pre-teen years, was 18 year old Elana Simon (pictured at the top). She’s been featured on GirlTalkHQ before because of her extraordinary story. She contracted a rare form of liver cancer called Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma. This cancer is so rare there wasn’t enough research and knowledge on its type.

Elana decided she wasn’t just going to be a cancer victim or survivor, but study the disease she had and help doctors come up with a cure. You know, average 18 year old stuff…

Part of her research was also published in the online Science journal, making her one of the youngest people to ever be featured as a co-author of a major study in such a prestigious publication.

She decided to gather tissue samples from patients coping with the same cancer, performed genomic sequencing tests, and found a common genetic mutation across all of the samples she collected. Elana is a recent winner of the American Association for Cancer Research’s Junior Champion in Cancer Research Award. She has presented her work before an audience of 16,000 cancer researchers and is headed to Harvard to study computer science in the fall.

Her hard work and achievements so far shocked President Obama who sang her praises at the fair.

“Can I just say, I did not do this at 12, or 18,” President Obama told her during the fourth annual White House Science Fair. “We’re so proud of you.”

It’s great to see the US Government encouraging young women (and men) to use their talent and brains in the science and engineering fields. There should be no reason to read statistics such as this:

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If we can show more women that they belong in the STEM industries and that they can make valuable contributions perhaps they won’t see it as a gender-specific career choice, but a viable option for their future.

Check out more of the White House Science Fair as covered by CBS below:

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