Obama's speech to National Academy of Sciences

Here are a couple of excerpts from Obama’s speech to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC this morning. His speech was targeted to the audience of scientists, engineers and medical researchers in attendance.

America’s young people will rise to the challenge if given the opportunity – if called upon to join a cause larger than themselves. And we’ve got evidence. The average age in NASA’s mission control during the Apollo 17 mission was just 26. I know that young people today are ready to tackle the grand challenges of this century

So I want to persuade you to spend time in the classroom, talking – and showing –young people what it is that your work can mean, and what it means to you. Encourage your university to participate in programs to allow students to get a degree in scientific fields and a teaching certificate at the same time. Think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, like science festivals, robotics competitions, and fairs that encourage young people to create, build, and invent – to be makers of things.

And I want you to know that I’m going to be working along side you. I’m going to participate in a public awareness and outreach campaign to encourage students to consider careers in science, mathematics, and engineering – because our future depends on it.

In his speech, he also recognized the need to improve science and math education in the US:

… since we know that the progress and prosperity of future generations will depend on what we do now to educate the next generation, today I am announcing a renewed commitment to education in mathematics and science.

Through this commitment, American students will move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math over the next decade. For we know that the nation that out-educates us today – will out-compete us tomorrow.

We cannot start soon enough. We know that the quality of math and science teachers is the most influential single factor in determining whether or a student will succeed or fail in these subjects. Yet, in high school, more than twenty percent of students in math and more than sixty percent of students in chemistry and physics are taught by teachers without expertise in these fields. And this problem is only going to get worse; there is a projected shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers across the country by 2015.

That is why I am announcing today that states making strong commitments and progress in math and science education will be eligible to compete later this fall for additional funds under the Secretary of Education’s $5 billion Race to the Top program.

I am challenging states to dramatically improve achievement in math and science by raising standards, modernizing science labs, upgrading curriculum, and forging partnerships to improve the use of science and technology in our classrooms. And I am challenging states to enhance teacher preparation and training, and to attract new and qualified math and science teachers to better engage students and reinvigorate these subjects in our schools.

I believe FIRST is on the President’s radar screen. Let’s remind our elected officials, school administrators, local businesses about the impact of FIRST. The program has an opportunity for more dramatic growth. Imagine 20% of the high schools in the country with a FIRST team before the end of Obama’s first term (>5,000 teams)!

Right on! I agree, but why stop at 20% lets push for 25%!

You know, we need to sign the President onto Chief Delphi and let him be inspired. I know he is very busy, but this is great reading and CD has the pulse of the youth of the nation.

Al you are so right. How do we want to approach this, like how do we as a community contact him. If there is any way possible we should do this. This site and community is so inspiring. :ahh:

Let’s think about this. I know there is a website to give input to the Whitehouse but we need something of a bigger impact. We have all been writing congress and state people too. We need another idea. Time to think!!!

Maybe someone in the DC area can introduce Sidwell Friends School to FIRST? Obama’s daughters and Biden’s three grandchildren are enrolled there, as was Chelsea Clinton.

A robotics demonstration or invitation to a nearby off-season event could go a long way in getting direct involvement by the “first family”.

Isnt’ team 45 and 234 nearby(no clue of global position, being on ipod touch sucks right now). Being the Veteran teams, I bet they could pull it off. They both have great programs.

Maybe if you were talking about Washington Indiana :slight_smile:

I knew I was off, thanks IndySam. But what teams are in that area?

There are 15 FRC teams in DC itself, including 9 rookie teams. Dozens more teams are nearby in MD, VA, PA, etc.

Oh yeah, MOE is already familiar with driving a robot in the White House, right up to the President!

Battle of Baltimore is an opportunity for more exposure. I’m sure there are other events planned…

I’d rather push for team sustainability than rapid growth.

I think we should aim for 0% growth until we can improve the overall quality of current teams.

Sidwell Friends is well acquainted with FIRST through FLL. Students from both the elementary school and middle school campus (two separate locations) have always attended the Maryland FLL State Championship and one of their teachers received the Maryland FLL Mentor of the Year.


Personally, I think Woodie said it best, when he said at the Championships that we should be focusing on expanding FTC while strengthening and sustaining the existing FRC teams until the economy improves. And since VRC or Savage Soccer are in the same order of magnitude of expenses/necessary resources as FTC, I’d tack them onto the expansion list as well.

And while FiM and offseason competitions increase the number of matches a FRC team can participate in for $X dollars, they aren’t really lowering costs that drastically for teams (event organizers and FedEx Freight are a different story). It still easily takes $10k to participate even in a low-cost FRC FiM style competition (or one regular FRC regional plus half dozen offseason competitions), which for that price you can easily run four or five FTC/VRC teams. I’d rather see five successful FTC/VRC teams than a single struggling FRC team that barely lives on year to year.*

To this day, I still can’t understand why when someone hears “we need to expand FIRST!” they only think of FRC. It’s really shortsighted, as it’s missing the largest potential for “market share growth” FIRST has.

  • Please do NOT read this thinking that all FRC teams should fold into multiple smaller FTC/VRC teams. FRC is an excellent program as long as your team can raise at least $16k-$20k per year, a place to fabricate and build their robots, and has strong school/community/sponsor/mentor/engineering support (pick at least three). But for teams who consistently struggle to meet these criteria, several smaller healthy teams are better than one larger team on life-support.