Taking the stage, the President announced that starting this year, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), in partnership with nonprofit organizations, will create a unit called STEM AmeriCorps charged with getting more young people to enter STEM competitions. One of STEM Americorps' first projects -- with support from AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), the national service program started by John F. Kennedy -- will be to help the nonprofit For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) to get more low-income high school students involved in FIRST's robotics contests.
Additionally, 10 leading education nonprofits and U.S. technology companies including SanDisk and Cisco are launching US2020, a program that will provide students from kindergarten through college with mentors from STEM fields. "The program will connect professional scientists and engineers with students who want to follow in their footsteps. The science fair products of today could become the [real] products of tomorrow," said Obama.
[ The U.K. faces a hurdle in getting kids interested in high-tech careers. Read U.K. Students Not Lining Up To Study IT . ]
Approximately 30 teams made up of students of all ages exhibited their projects at this year's fair, encompassing everything from emerging technologies to robotics. Easton LaChapelle, a 17-year-old student from Colorado, built a prosthetic arm by generating most of the parts through a 3-D printer. "My goal is to create an affordable prosthetic for everyday use," LaChapelle said during a live stream of the event on the White House blog. He was able to assemble a fully operational arm for approximately $250, and is now working on improving its mobility.
Another student, high school senior Brittany Wenger from Florida, developed a cloud-based artificial intelligence program for diagnosing breast cancer. The Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer was built on the Google App Engine, using data published to the Machine Learning Repository by the University of Wisconsin. The program, which also won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair, has run 7.6 million trials, with 99.11% sensitivity.
The White House Science Fair launched in October 2010 as part of the Educate to Innovate initiative. Winning experiments from that year included a solar-powered car, a soccer-playing robot, a smart steering wheel that combatted distracted driving, and a digital 3-D model of an imaginary city for earthquake victims.