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MIT undergraduate showcases work at White House science fair

Event also features 2 high-school teams that won grants from the Lemelson-MIT Program.
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Sophomore Nathan S. Benjamin, far right in white shirt, was one of 75 young innovators who presented their work at the first-ever White House science fair.
Sophomore Nathan S. Benjamin, far right in white shirt, was one of 75 young innovators who presented their work at the first-ever White House science fair.
Photo: Madeleine S. Jacobs, Executive Director and CEO, American Chemical Society

MIT sophomore Nathan S. Benjamin and two high-school teams with ties to the Lemelson-MIT Program took part in today's first-ever White House science fair, where they showed off their innovations and inventions to President Barack Obama.

Benjamin, a 2009 International Chemistry Olympiad silver medalist, was one of the 75 exemplary science students chosen from across the nation to attend the fair.

“Nathan Benjamin exemplifies the scientific intelligence and focused determination that will create a bright future for America,” said American Chemical Society (ACS) President Joseph S. Francisco. “A leader for his generation, it is right and proper that Nathan be invited to inspire others to pursue scientific discovery and innovation.”

Benjamin, who is studying physics at MIT, will be blogging about his experience at the White House, his thoughts about science education, and his experience with the International Chemistry Olympiad, To follow his remarks and view video footage visit:

Also invited to the fair were two of the 2009-2010 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams — which are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants of up to $10,000 from the Lemelson-MIT Program to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve.

The teams from Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, Ariz., and Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn., were among those presenting their work to the president today.

“The Cesar Chavez and Oak Ridge InvenTeams’ visit to the White House is a testament to the power of invention to change the world and help others," said Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer, who oversees the InvenTeam initiative. "With dedicated teachers and support from the government, corporations and non-profit organizations, students can and will build the academic foundation and technical skills — while gaining confidence — that they need to become change-makers."

The White House science fair is meant to fulfill a commitment the president made at the November 2009 launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign.

At the time, the president noted: “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too."

Video courtesy of the White House

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