Whiz kids strutted their scientific stuff -- such as a marshmallow launcher developed by an eighth grader -- Tuesday at the White House Science Fair.
President Barack Obama used the opportunity to announce his administration and its private-sector partners committed more than $100 million to help prepare 100,000 effective math and science teachers and to train 1 million additional science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM) graduates over the next 10 years.
"When students excel in math and science, they help America compete for the jobs and industries of the future," Obama said.
In a fact sheet, the White House said $80 million in public funds and $22 million from private and philanthropic organizations would go toward STEM teacher preparation and support. The fact sheet said Obama would request $80 million for a new competition by the Department of Education to support effective STEM teacher preparation programs, such as allowing students to simultaneously earn both a STEM degree and a teaching certificate, and to provide undergraduates with early and intensive experiences in the classroom honing their skills.
Warning that the Secret Service "is going to be mad at me," Obama headed for the marshmallow launcher, pumped the compressor then shot a marshmallow across the State Dining Room, narrowly missing a window.
Obama also told the inventors about helping his daughter, Sasha, with an egg-drop contest. which he said she won.
"We practiced by dropping it from the Truman balcony," he said. "We had a whole bunch of prototypes and she ended up winning. I'm hip to the whole egg thing. It's tough."
The president joined three girls from Texas to discuss the particulars of contest for rockets that required the vehicles to travel 100 feet in the air and carry two raw eggs without damaging them.
Obama noted the rockets -- one wrapped in yellow paper with cherry blossoms -- wasn't exactly a "tough looking rocket ... with the flowers and birds and stuff."
One of the girls said they designed that rocket with Washington's cherry blossoms in mind.
"It's beautiful; you just don't usually see rockets this pretty," Obama said.
He repeatedly told the students they were an inspiration to him and he was confident they'd be successful.