President Barack Obama welcomed innovative teens from around the country to the White House Wednesday for the 6th and final White House Science Fair of his administration.
The event celebrated more than 130 students from more than 30 states, as well as student alumni from each of the prior five White House Science Fairs. Exhibits highlighted innovations in science, technology and engineering, designed by students ranging from elementary through high school.
President Obama welcomed the students and made sure to emphasize that, despite their age, student contributions to the scientific community remain invaluable to the future scientific discoveries.
“You don’t always cross the finish line yourself,” the President said. “Sometimes you have a hypothesis or a theory, and other people build off of it.”
Seventeen-year-old Olivia Hallisey won the grand prize at the 2015 Google Science Fair last September for her low-cost, portable diagnostic test for Ebola, which is capable of detecting the disease much faster than current tests. Watching news coverage of the disease on television inspired the junior at Greenwich High School in Connecticut to spend six months developing a solution for diagnosing the highly-contagious disease. Her test shows results in just 30 minutes and is currently awaiting patent approval.
“I really want it to be used in the field and applied to other diseases like Zika,” Hallisey said, adding that she hopes the test will be used both at home and during travel and capable of being dropped into affected areas by air.
Middle school students Isha Shah, Sydney Lin and Krishna Patel from Las Vegas showcased their design for the national Future City engineering competition. All three hope to pursue engineering careers in the future and were excited to be sharing their project at the White House.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s absolutely unbelievable,” said 13-year-old Shah.