An avid and self-avowed sports nut, President Barack Obama on Monday said it would serve the nation well to celebrate those achieving excellence in science the same way it celebrates athletes.
“Often we don’t give these victories the attention that they deserve,” Obama said at the first-ever White House Science Fair. “You know, when you win first place at a science fair, nobody’s rushing the field or dumping Gatorade over your head.”
The president said the country might want to consider treating math and science competitions like the sports events that receive so much attention.
“We welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories — I’ve had the Lakers here, I’ve had the Saints here, the Crimson Tide,” he said. “I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fairs and robotics contests.”
Obama noted that 15-year-old students in the U.S. rank 21st in science and 25th in math, compared to other countries.
“It is unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you, for us to be ranked, on average, as 21st or 25th, not with so much at stake,” he said. “We don’t play for second place here in America. We certainly don’t play for 25th.”
Obama said he wants to return Americans to the top of the lists within a decade.