Solar Cars and Heat Rays as Mythbusters Hit White House Science Fair Solar Cars and Heat Rays as Mythbusters Hit White House Science Fair

Solar Cars and Heat Rays as Mythbusters Hit White House Science Fair

by Ben Jervey

October 20, 2010

Earlier today, students from around the country got to show off their robots and rockets and solar cars at the White House Science Fair. On the White House blog, they explain that the fair "is part of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate program to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade."

Notable science "celebrities" in attendance were Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, Bill Nye "The Science Guy," and Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, better known as the Mythbusters, who also filmed a show featuring the president. According to the Caucus blog, the myth being tested is that of the Archimedes heat ray during the Siege of Syracuse back in 214 B.C. Legend has it that the Greek scientist used a bunch of mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays into a massive heat ray that torched the invading Roman ships.

Hey, it's concentrated solar power, one of our core climate solutions!

Check out these remarks by the President at the Science Fair, calling out one of the accomplished young student-scientists who built an award-winning solar-powered car, and putting her in the context of some of the great American scientists in history:

We can think of Einstein, Edison, Franklin, Tesla, and the founders of Google and Apple and Microsoft.  But now we’ve got some other people to think about -- like Mikayla Nelson, who’s here today.  Where’s Mikayla?  Is she here?  There she is, right there.  (Applause.)  Mikayla -- I had a chance to -- Mikayla is from Billings, Montana.  She works with an entire team -- I'm sorry to embarrass you here, Mikayla.  (Laughter.)  She’s like, “Oh, God, he called on me.”  (Laughter.) 

She’s representing Will James Middle School.  She and her classmates built a solar-powered car that won the design award in the National Science Bowl.  She’s in 9th grade.  She’s already trying to earn a pilot’s license, and she’s working on building an actual plane.  She wants to be an engineer.  There’s no doubt we can expect great things from her.

Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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Solar Cars and Heat Rays as Mythbusters Hit White House Science Fair