Mr. Obama said academics should be receiving an athletic-like focus. And as he presented a set of initiatives intended to improve the science and math scores of American students, he announced that the White House would begin holding an annual science fair starting next year.
“If you win the N.C.A.A. championships, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you’ve produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too,” Mr. Obama said. “Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models, and here at the White House, we’re going to lead by example.”
He added, “We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”
Mr. Obama presented the “Educate to Innovate” campaign on Monday. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was on hand, along with students and dozens of scientists and other administration officials. After speaking for about 15 minutes, the president inspected the “Cougar Cannon,” a device made by two students that is intended to scoop up and toss moon rocks.