On Tuesday, Bill Nye was privileged to attend the second White House Science Fair.
The event opened, as any White House event will, with a speech by the President. I was pleased by what he said about the importance of science to the future of American competitiveness. I've included a video of the President's speech at the end of this post. Alternatively, you can listen (MP3, 12MB) or read a transcript of what he said. Here's what I thought were some of the highlights:
[I]t is fitting that this year's fair is happening just two days after the Super Bowl. I want to congratulate the New York Giants and all their fans. I just talked to Coach Coughlin; I'm looking forward to having the Giants here at the White House so we can celebrate their achievements. But what I've also said -- I've said this many times -- is if we are recognizing athletic achievement, then we should also be recognizing academic achievement and science achievement. If we invite the team that wins the Super Bowl to the White House, then we need to invite some science fair winners to the White House as well.
...[Y]ou guys put me to shame. What impresses me so much is not just how smart you are, but it's the fact that you recognize you've got a responsibility to use your talents in service of something bigger than yourselves.
When you work and study and excel at what you're doing in math and science, when you compete in something like this, you're not just trying to win a prize today. You're getting America in shape to win the future. You're making sure we have the best, smartest, most skilled workers in the world, so that the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root right here. You're making sure we'll always be home to the most creative entrepreneurs, the most advanced science labs and universities. You're making sure America will win the race to the future. So as an American, I'm proud of you. As your President, I think we need to make sure your success stories are happening all across our country.
I'm going to make a special plea to the press -- not just the folks who are here, but also your editors -- give this some attention. I mean, this is the kind of stuff, what these young people are doing, that's going to make a bigger difference in the life of our country over the long term than just about anything. And it doesn't belong just on the back pages of a newspaper; we've got to lift this up.
Here's another fun pic of Bill from the White House. That girl who's so excited to be photographed with him, Shree Bose, happens to be a student at Fort Worth Country Day School, the same one I graduated from in 1992! Here's an article from my hometown newspaper about what she did to get to the White House Science Fair. The article says: "Bose gave kudos to her school, saying that while she submits her own projects for competitions, she has had 'great science teachers at Country Day.'" And two of them are the same ones who taught me biology and chemistry. So let me give a shout-out to Ms. Hamilton and Dr. Aldridge, who were and are great science teachers!
After the speechifying and socializing, Bill Nye and Neil Tyson took the opportunity of being together in a really cool location to do an impromptu Twitter Q and A. Here they are in the "Twituation Room." (I couldn't find a source for this photo -- anybody know where it came from?)
Here's the video of the President's speech.