cbs4 My 33 Header Logo

Local

South Florida Student “Wows” President Obama

View Comments
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 27: U.S. President Barack Obama looks at the project of Peyton Roberston (L) from Ft Lauderdale, Florida, winner of the Discovery 3M Young Scientist, for his 'Sandless sand bags' project during the 2014 White House Science Fair at the White House, May 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama hosted the science fair to announce new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, and celebrated student winners of a range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. (Photo by Aude Guerruccip-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 27: U.S. President Barack Obama looks at the project of Peyton Roberston (L) from Ft Lauderdale, Florida, winner of the Discovery 3M Young Scientist, for his ‘Sandless sand bags’ project during the 2014 White House Science Fair at the White House, May 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama hosted the science fair to announce new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, and celebrated student winners of a range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. (Photo by Aude Guerruccip-Pool/Getty Images)

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up
Top Features

WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — A South Florida student was among the inventors that wowed President Barack Obama Tuesday.  So much so, that the President confessed to feeling a little bit, well, unaccomplished.

There was the catapult-armed mannequin that shot three-point baskets, the 18-year-old cancer researcher and the second-grade Girl Scouts from Tulsa, Oklahoma, with their Lego “flood-proof” bridge design.

“I’m such an underachiever,” Obama said after chatting with Eric Chen at Tuesday’s annual White House Science Fair. Chen, a Harvard-bound high school senior from San Diego, won grand prizes at the 2013 Google Science Fair and the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology for identifying new drug candidates for the treatment of influenza.

It’s an annual self-deprecating routine for the Harvard trained lawyer and 44th president of the United States, who happily recounts his personal failures in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“One year I accidentally killed some plants that were part of my experiment,” he told Tuesday’s White House Science Fair audience. “Another time a bunch of mice escaped in my grandmother’s apartment. These experiments did not take me straight to the White House.”

This year, Obama drew special attention to the science and engineering achievements of girls and young women, noting that men outnumber women studying and working in engineering and computer science.

“Half our team we’re not even putting on the field,” he said. “We’ve got to change those numbers.”

Obama announced a new $35 million Education Department competition to train the best math and science teachers. He also announced and expansion of AmeriCorps to help teach science and math to 18,000 low-income students this summer, and national science and math mentoring projects in Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis; the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina; and Wichita, Kansas.

He noted that he often greets champion athletes at the White House, most recently the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. But he said accomplished students deserve such honors, too.

“As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners because super-star biologists and engineers and rocket scientists and robot builders, they don’t always get the attention that they deserve, but they’re what’s going to transform our society,” he said.

Among Tuesday’s displays were a “concussion cushion” designed by a 19-year-old Maria Hanes of Santa Cruz, California, who aspires to be the first female collegiate head football coach. Two Massachusetts high school students, Olivia Van Amsterdam and Katelyn Sweeney, exhibited an ice rescue robot. (“So the idea would be I’ve fallen through the ice and sadly I probably didn’t make it, but, you know, Michelle still wants to find me,” Obama said, seeking to understand the work of the device.)

And then there was Peyton Robertson, a 12-year-old from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, who wowed Obama with two inventions — “sandless” flood retention sandbags and retractable bicycle wheels.

“If you can buy stock in Peyton,” Obama chuckled later, “you should do so now.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

RELATED CONTENT:

 

 

 

 

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus