Washington, Oct 20: President Barack Obama gave a shout-out to an Indian-American kid who recently made history by becoming the first person to earn a second Global Finalist award in the 2015 Google Science Fair.
“We’ve got some young Americans here tonight with that same kind of adventurous spirit,” he said addressing several hundred people including students, teachers, and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden at the second White House Astronomy Night.
“When Pranav Sivakumar was six years old, he found an encyclopaedia about famous scientists lying around the house,” said Obama at the event on the mansion’s South Lawn Monday night.
“At least he thinks it was lying around there. Actually, his parents probably were setting it out — hoping he was going to run into it,” he said amid laughter.
“And he’s been fascinated with outer space ever since. For years, every Saturday morning, his parents drove him an hour to an astrophysics lab for ‘Ask-A-Scientist’ class.”
“And before long, he teamed up with researchers he met there to study the ‘gravitational lensing of quasars’,” he said. “That is not what I was thinking about at his age.”
“Pranav was a global finalist in the Google Science Fair — not once, but twice. So you know he’s going to do some important things. Give him a big round of applause,” said the president amid applause.
“And where’s Pranav? Because I was talking about him, and I didn’t — there you go. Give Pranav a big round of applause,” added Obama as he spotted Pranav to another round of applause.
“So these are examples of the extraordinary young people that we have here today,” he said citing a couple of other students.
“And we’ve got some outstanding teachers here today,” said Obama. “We need parents to leave encyclopaedias of famous scientists lying around the house, or help turn a bedroom into an ideas laboratory.
“We need to inspire more young people to ask about the stars, and begin that lifetime quest to become the next great scientist, or inventor, or engineer, or astronaut.”
Pranav, 15, was chosen out of only 10 students in his age category, 7 Americans, and 20 total students worldwide to make the finals of this year’s Google Science Fair.
His research addressed unresolvable image configurations of quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, allowing him to identify 109 new high probability quasar candidates.
Pranav has also won the Astronomical League’s National Young Astronomer Award, two National Semifinalist awards in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology, taking second place in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
After his speech, Obama spoke briefly with Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas student who was arrested and suspended from high school for bringing a homemade clock to class.
But the teenager, who embarked on a wide-ranging tour after his arrest made him famous, did not bring his clock along.