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White House Science Fair Turns Spotlight on Girls

obama with robot
President Obama gets down on his knees to examine a robot at the White House Science Fair in 2010. (Image credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Young math and science whizzes from around the country will convene in the nation's capital next week for the annual White House Science Fair, hosted by President Barack Obama.

This year's fair, which will be held on Tuesday (May 27), will focus specifically on girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields who are inspiring the next generation, White House officials said.

"Since day one, the president has been committed to getting more underrepresented groups, including women and girls, excited to excel at STEM subjects," a White House blog post said. [12 Amazing Women Who Totally Rocked at Science]

Obama started the White House Science Fair in 2009, when he launched his Educate to Innovate campaign to inspire kids in math and science. The fair aims to honor academic achievements the same way the White House honors athletic achievements

"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," Obama once said.

Previous White House Science Fairs havefeatured everything from marshmallow launchers to robots. Last year's competition honored 100 students from more than 40 states. Bill Nye the Science Guy and actor LeVar Burton also made special appearances at last year's science fair.

In 2009, Obama signed legislation for the Race to the Top Fund, a $4.35 billion competitive grant program designed to encourage education reform. The program gave preference to states that demonstrated efforts to close the gap in STEM fields among girls and other underrepresented groups.

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Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.