NASA Officials Participate In 2nd Annual White House Science Fair

President Obama inspects a robot during the White house Science Fair.  Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

President Obama inspects a robot during the White house Science Fair. Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other senior
agency officials joined President Obama in honoring student science
fair winners from across the country at the second annual White House
Science Fair today in the East Wing of the White House. The event
highlighted student achievement and excellence in science,
technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

In November 2009, the president announced his “Educate to Innovate”
campaign and emphasized the importance of encouraging students to
pursue STEM studies and careers. NASA has developed a wide variety of
education programs that use the inherent excitement of space
exploration and science to inspire students and generate interest in
STEM.

“Programs like this science fair help students develop critical skills
and get hands-on experience that will serve them and our nation well
in the future,” Bolden said. “These talented students are tomorrow’s
science leaders, and their skills will be critical to helping us make
an American economy built to last.”

Joining Bolden at the event were NASA’s Associate Administrator for
Education Leland Melvin and Associate Administrator for Science John
Grunsfeld. Both Melvin and Grunsfeld also are veteran space shuttle
astronauts who frequently use their flight experiences as catalysts
for engaging students’ interest in space and science. NASA Chief
Technologist, Mason Peck, NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, and
Paul Hertz, chief scientist for the agency’s Science Mission
Directorate, also attended the fair and met with student honorees.

Among the winning science experiments displayed at the White House
today were two that related directly to NASA’s mission, including
entries from a girls’ rocket team and a FIRST Robotics alliance.

The “Young Women Rocketing to Nationals” team featured Janet and Ana
Karen Nieto of Presidio, Texas, who are members of the Presidio High
School Rocketry Team that competed as a national finalist in the Team
America Rocketry Challenge in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Gwynelle Condino,
a 7th grade student at Lucy Franco Middle School in Presidio, is the
team’s leader this year.

“A Winning Robotics Alliance, with Astronauts Cheering Them On” team
was comprised of John Drake of Schaumburg, Ill., Sean Murphy of
Atascadero, Calif., and Eric Bakan of San Jose, Calif. They
represented the winning alliance of the 2011 FIRST Robotics
Competition Championship and were mentored by engineers at NASA’s
Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

Two other NASA-related education programs also were represented at
today’s event.

Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE),
is a hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and
education program where students, teachers and scientists worldwide
collaborate on investigations of the environment and the Earth
system. Participants work in close partnership with NASA and other
federal agencies.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was launched in
June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science
Education, in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. Student teams in
grades 5-12 propose microgravity experiments for flight in a research
minilab that may be flown to the International Space Station. SSEP is
enabled through a space act agreement as part of the International
Space Station’s use as a National Laboratory.

To learn more about NASA’s education programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/education

To learn more about NASA’s science missions, visit:

http://www.science.nasa.gov

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