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bike powered water santiation white house science fair 2013 President Barack Obama pedals a bicycle-powered emergency water-sanitation station in the East Garden of the White House during the White House Science Fair, April 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Kids Show Off Their Inventions

Young inventors celebrated at White House Science Fair

By Hannah Prensky | null null , null

On Monday, President Barack Obama hosted the third annual White House Science Fair. The event is meant to highlight science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, as well as promote the President's Educate to Innovate campaign.

"This is one of my favorite events in the course of the year," the President said. "I just had the chance to have a look at the outstanding exhibits put forward by these young people, and let me just say in my official capacity as President: This stuff is really cool!"

The President celebrated 100 student winners of STEM competitions from 40 states. They came to the White House and showed off their work. The students' projects ranged from breakthrough basic research to new inventions.

One of the young inventors who stood out was 16-year-old Jack Andraka from Maryland.

Jack developed a paper sensor for detecting pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer. He said it costs three cents and takes five minutes to run.

Jack hopes his invention will help the thousands of Americans who are annually diagnosed with those cancers.

"So far it's 100 percent accurate and it detects cancer in its early stages, when someone has much better chances of survival," Jack told the Kids Press Corps.

Not bad for "a guy who's barely old enough to drive," as President Obama put it.

The President praised Jack's efforts and persistence. "He requested space in a research lab to test his product nearly 200 times. Two-hundred times he asked, 200 times he was turned down," commented the President.

kid reporter kid inventors white house science fair 2013 cool pads
Kid Reporter Hannah Prensky interviews the young inventors of COOL PADS at the 2013 White House Science Fair. (Photo courtesy Hannah Prensky)
Jack finally got into a research facility at Johns Hopkins and worked for almost seven months in the lab. "When I got this to work, I was so excited I just ran around the lab," Jack remembered. "Luckily no one was there because it was around midnight."

Other Game Changers

Another team who impressed with their ideas and enthusiasm was a group of grade schoolers from Georgia. They came up with a new invention called COOL PADS. COOL PADS feature temperature sensors and a cooling system to help athletes maintain a safe body temperature.

COOL PADS were created by 10-year-old Evan J. and 8-year-olds Alec J. and Caleb R. They play football and noticed firsthand how overheating and dehydration affect players on the field.

"One time I was at my football game and by the third quarter I felt overheated, my head hurt, and I didn't want to eat anything," Evan explained. "We came up with COOL PADS so nobody would have to feel like I did.".

Another invention on display was a bicycle-powered emergency water-sanitation station that filters harmful bacteria from contaminated water. It was created by a team of 16 inventors led by Florida high-schoolers Payton Karr and Kiona Elliot.

"In an emergency, such as after a disaster in a place like Haiti or after a hurricane, this device can be assembled and disassembled in under an hour and can produce enough water to hydrate 20 to 30 people during a 15 hour period," Payton explained.

"We would like for this invention to be used by an organization like the Red Cross and to be mass produced so that it could be transported to areas affected by disaster," added Kiona.

The student inventors said they learned some great lessons from their experience at the White House. But they also had advice for other kids who might have a big idea.

"A good inventor doesn't have to be smart," Jack said. "I know people who are way smarter than me, who make me look like a rock. You have to be creative and think outside the box. All these ideas start out like crazy ideas, but you have to believe in your project."


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