Yesterday I had the great honor of escorting 13-year-old Jack Hanson and 15-year-old Haley Hanson to the White House Science Fair where they, and other selected participants from across the country, were congratulated by President Obama for their achievements in developing educational STEM projects. Teammates (and brother and sister) Jack and Haley are two of seventeen winners of the Game Changers Kids Competition and won for their work developing educational adventures and levels in EAs Spore and Sonys LittleBigPlanet, respectively.
President Obama delivered a rousing speech to Science Fair participants, parents and celebrity special guests--including Bill Nye the Science Guy and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters--in a packed standing room only White House dining room.
"We welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories . . I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fair and robotic contests, and math competitions. . . in many ways, our future depends on what happens in those contests. . . Its in these pursuits that talents are discovered and passions are lit, and the future scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs are born. That's whats going to help ensure that we succeed in the next century, that we're leading the world in developing the technologies, businesses and industries of the future."
And, indeed, you could look around the room as the President was speaking and see those sparks flying, see those passions being lit. As Haley noted to me after exploring the Science Fair: All these great inventors and innovators- it just makes me want to invent something right now and come up with something as soon as I get back to the hotel! It is very inspiring.
While Jack and Haley had the honor of attending the event in the White House, I had the privilege of watching the event unfold from my vantage point in the Eisenhower auditorium where other eager attendees and chaperones looked on. The audience included many of the teachers whose students were being represented and it was particularly moving to see these teachers, many moved to tears, swell with pride for their students, especially when President Obama singled out a project one of their own students had worked so hard on. The passion for what these dedicated teachers do in the classroom every day was palpable.
And being in the simulcast event had its perks! The first ever Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Aneesh Chopra, delivered remarks, briefing those of us who could not attend the Science Fair itself on the projects that were being demoed. He also included a lengthy shout out to the Digital Media and Learning Competition as a participant in National Lab Day. I admit, I puffed up with pride! And, indeed, when I saw Jack shake the Presidents hand, I felt a vicarious thrill. I fully reserve the right to brag that I got to shake Jacks hand, the hand that shook the Presidents hand, for weeks to come.
The White House Science Fair celebrated the winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions--including the Game Changers Kids Competition, a subset of the annual $2 million HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition--which were launched as part of President Obamas Educate to Innovate initiative back in November 2009 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/educate-innovate).
It was an honor to be included in this tremendously inspiring event and to represent HASTAC and the Digital Media and Learning Competition on a national stage. And I am happy that I got to accompany Jack and Haley and their lovely parents, Lori and Michael, to the White House event and to share in what was surely an exciting moment, not just for them, but for the larger Digital Media and Learning Competition of which I am so proud to be a part.
The seventeen winners of the Game Changers Kids Competition are:
William Cuddy, Canada
Team: Rush! (Richasackboy)
Haley Hanson, USA
Team: VolcanicStardust (VolcanicThor, Stardust_Gal)
Cole Hildebrandt, USA
The Elements . . . and Bombs
Team: 42 Donuts (Cole H. and Non W.)
Paras Mehta, USA
Team: ninjakids (Paras Mehta, Kevin Mehta)
Kirk Miller, USA
Team: Team Miller (Kirk, Dominic)
Samuel Barch, USA
Team: Team Doomsday (Gengar114)
Davey Barron, USA
A World Devoid
Team: doozercrew (doozerdude)
Brock Carter, Canada
Saving Private Roto (Spore)
Team: Team Nurv (Brock)
Caleb Craig, USA
Team: Team Areon (CoolCaleb7800, elizabeth705)
Philip Greene, United Kingdom
The Tomb of Khafra
Team: Evolution (Conquest1600)
Robert Groome, USA
Island of Illusions
Team: Malacinator (Malackasurus, Geckonator97)
Jack Hanson, USA
LIVE or DIE
Team: Thor_In_The_Sky (pelicanthor, bunny_in_the_sky)
Khloe Ilsley, USA
The Ghost Ship
Team: Dreamweaver (Khloe14)
Aidan Robak, USA
Aronzo and the Treasure
Team: TheGreatOcean (Arsonfire)
Demetri Sofides, USA
The Lantern Bearer
Team: Team Fezonn (Fezonn)
Aaron Thomson, USA
Team: Star Master (Aaron Thomson)
Henry Williams, USA
Team: Droid (Inferno7, Jaconan)