WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS4) – Pedal power took a pair of high school students from Oakland Park to the White House and earned them praise from the President.
Kiona Elliott and Payton Kaar, students at Northeast High School, were honored Monday along with other winners of STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — competitions from across the U.S.
In a ceremony with the President, the students showed off their invention — a pedal-powered water filtration system that can be used in emergencies to filter out harmful pathogens like E. Coli from contaminated water. The real highlight came when President Obama decided to hop on their collapsible bike for a quick, stationary ride.
“I didn’t actually expect him to get on the bike so that was a huge honor for us,” Payton Kaar told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “It was really cool.”
The young woman say the bicycle was inspired by a classmate’s trip to Haiti. They said the bike can be used to produce enough water for 20 to 30 people during a 15 hour period.
Kiona Elliott said the President’s words were inspiring.
“He just told us how excited he was that we were working on something that could provide relief to third world countries and how he was proud of us for doing work like this at such a young age,” Elliot said.
Elliot is headed to the University of Florida in the fall to continue her scientific research.
Kaar has another year of high school and she hopes the Red Cross or another relief organization might show interest in developing and using the bicycle.
Both young women hope their success will encourage other young people to take an interest in science.