Presidents, not just this one, host at the White House just about every bunch of dumb jocks that manage to win some kind of national title, from college through the professional ranks. The president stages an East Room event, which takes about 30 minutes or so out of his day, it seems – conservatively – about once every two weeks.
Not a big deal? OK ADD IT UP. Twenty times 26 weeks is eight and two thirds hours, about A FULL WORKING DAY each year congratulating sports teams.
So yesterday, the president brought in some science students who presumably wouldn’t know their way from the 40 to the 30 yard line and congratulated them too. At a fundraiser last night in Rockville, Md, he gave his rationale. It’s a good one.
We hosted a science fair today at the White House. This is the first time that we’d ever hosted a science fair at the White House. (Applause.) And the reason we did it was because I kept on having over these championship basketball teams and football teams. We had the Alabama Crimson Tide. We had the New Orleans Saints. We had the Los Angeles Lakers. And it’s a lot of fun having these great sports teams come by. And I said, but how about all these kids who are involved in science and math and engineering? Why aren’t we celebrating them?
So we hosted this science fair. And they actually set up exhibits in the State Dining Room. And this was just a sampling of some of the young people that we’d invited. And you walk through, and at each booth you met the most amazing young people you would ever care to — ever care to meet.
Obama was particularly taken with one girl and her project, a new cancer drug. From yesterday’s pool report.
Some further detail on Potus’ conversation with Amy Chyao, the exhibitor who won first place atthe Intel Science and Engineering Fair for her project, “Lights, Quantum Dots, Action!”
At the start of their exchange, Potus clarified with Ms. Chyao: “This is a drug that is already being tested in laboratories around the world?… Is it already on the market?” Chyao responded that she had an idea for improving the way the treatment is being administered — a design a way for the treatment to penetrate deeper.
Potus asked Chyao, “What were the steps that you took?” to begin the project.
She replied, “It was actually basically from scratch, because when I started this project I didn’t know any chemistry. So first I taught myself chemistry — this was over the summer, so I only had biology. So I learned some basic general chemistry first and then just started making nanotubes. I worked in a nanotechonology lab so the drug that I synthesized is very small.”
She then went into detail about the scientific process.
Potus asked at the end of the process, “How far did you get along with your ultimate goal of creating this new drug?’
Chyao said she did create it, did lots of testing, and proved its efficacy. She noted she is continuing research to make it more effective.
Potus continued, “Given the progress you’ve made, have you been able to connect with people in labs around the country and older scientists who might be really inspired by these ideas and might move it along? Or are you still just working by yourself?”
Chyao said that after she won the International Science fair, her professor received “a lot of inquiries” and is “talking with a lot of people who are actually implementing” the therapy and “is sending some of my samples to be tested.” She said she was starting to branch out, and that for certain testing, she would be working with the biology dep’t at the University of Texas at Dallas. “It’ll be a lot of working with other scientists,” she said.
Potus remarked, “Well, how exciting is this. It’s really inspiring. That’s wonderful. Congratulations.”