Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • Robots, Spaceflight, and America’s Open-Data Treasure Chest addressed at White House “State of STEM” Event for Kids

    Today, two people who have slept in outer space, two young STEM prodigies, eight astronauts-in-training, one roboticist, and three of President Obama’s top science, technology, and innovation officials walked into a room…

    SoSTEM Hudy JPH

    Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, left, smiles along with 16-year-old Joey Hudy, a former White House Science Fair participant and self-described “Maker” at the annual White House State of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (SoSTEM) address, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. (Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls)

    Then, so did nearly 100 inquisitive DC-area middle- and high-schoolers and five kid-reporters from Time Magazine for Kids, National Geographic for Kids, and Montgomery Blair High School’s Silver Chips online newspaper. Together, this cadre comprised the second-ever State of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – or “SoSTEM ” –  event at the White House.

    Yes, this morning, in celebration of President Obama’s passionate STEM-centric messages at last night’s State of the Union address, the White House convened a portion of the Nation’s geeky brain trust, along with America’s next generation of innovators and budding reporters to discuss steps the Administration is taking to continue the tradition of scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that has long made our country great.

  • Brainstorming New Ways to Bolster America’s STEM Workforce

    STEM Workforce Data Jam

    On January 23, 2014, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and Office of Personnel Management jointly hosted a STEM Workforce Data Jam in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. (Photo by OPM)

    Last week, more than 60 innovators, entrepreneurs, technologists, and data geeks gathered at the White House for a “Data Jam” to brainstorm new ways of using data to strengthen the Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce. The event, which was hosted by OSTP and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), also included representatives from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the General Services Administration, and a number of other Government agencies.

    Today, the U.S. Government’s STEM workforce is more than 300,000 strong and includes an array of experts from diverse technical fields—including scientists researching cancer cures at the National Institutes of Health; NASA astronauts and satellite technicians; managers of complex research programs at NSF and DARPA; and many more. Every day, these public servants harness their extraordinary STEM skills to benefit the Nation. The Federal Government relies on these individuals to help assess and monitor our environment; enhance our Nation’s technical infrastructure; track and analyze data; translate research results into informed policy decisions; and more.

  • Introducing the All-Star Geeks of SoSTEM 2014!

    Marshmallow Meme

    Joey Hudy shot to fame in 2012 when, at 14-years-old, he attended the White House Science Fair where the President took a turn using the contraption he had made - the “extreme marshmallow cannon”. Joey then handed the President a card with his credo: “Don’t be bored, make something.”

    We at OSTP are geeking out about the news that among the esteemed guests who will be sitting with the First Lady during tomorrow’s State of the Union address will be two science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) all-stars: 16-year old “Maker” extraordinaire Joey Hudy, who, as a middle-schooler in 2012, gained national fame after demonstrating his surprisingly explosive invention for the President at the White House Science Fair, and Tyrone Davis, a third-year law student who, in 2010, devised innovative ways for a college in North Carolina to save tens of thousands of dollars and reduce its carbon emissions by nearly 200 tons annually. 

    We are also excited that Joey, Tyrone, and some of America’s top STEM doers, innovators, and thinkers will continue the celebration of all things STEM on the day after State of the Union, by participating in the second annual State of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (“SoSTEM”) event at the White House.  At SoSTEM, more than 100 DC-area middle- and high-school students will have an opportunity to hear from and ask questions of John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor, Todd Park, US Chief Technology Officer, and an awesome lineup of science and technology all-stars, to include:


    Joey Hudy (Anthem, AZ
) is a self-described “Maker,” part of a growing community of young people, adults, and entrepreneurs who are designing and building things on their own time. Joey first shot to fame in 2012 when, at 14-years-old, he attended the White House Science Fair where the President took a turn using the contraption he had made -- the “extreme marshmallow cannon” – and launched a marshmallow across the East Room. Joey then handed the President a card with his credo: “Don’t be bored, make something.” Now 16, "Joey Marshmallow" has continued to live by his motto, appearing at Maker Faires all across the country. Joey, a proponent of STEM education, is determined to teach other kids about how they can make and do anything they want. Joey lives in Anthem, Arizona with his mom, dad, and older sister, and attends Herberger Young Scholars Academy on the campus of Arizona State University. Earlier this month, he started as Intel’s youngest intern, a position Intel CEO Brian Krzanich offered him on the spot at his Maker Faire exhibit. Joey will be seated in the box with the First Lady, Dr. Biden and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, at the State of the Union Address this Tuesday.

  • Wins “Innovations in American Government” Award


    OSTP Director John P. Holdren congratulated the General Services Administration's team for its selection as recipient of the Innovations in American Government Award from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University on January 23, 2014, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Cristin Dorgelo)

    Today, Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation announced as winner of the prestigious 2013 “Innovations in American Government Award” in honor of exemplary service and creativity in the public interest.

    This award further highlights our excitement about the innovations being unleashed by public prizes and challenges, and the value of these solutions being developed by citizen solvers to address tough problems.

    Since its launch in September 2010 by the General Services Administration (GSA), has become a one-stop shop where entrepreneurs and citizen solvers can find public-sector prize competitions. The website has been used by nearly 60 Federal agencies to source solutions to over 300 incentive prizes and challenges and to engage more than 42,000 citizen solvers.

    In celebration of the award, stakeholders from across the Federal Government as well as the nonprofit and private sectors, gathered at GSA headquarters in Washington, DC, this morning for a ceremony which featured remarks from OSTP Director John P. Holdren, GSA Administrator Tangherlini, Harvard University’s Stephen Goldsmith, and Innovation Awards committee member Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The ceremony also showcased examples of innovative citizen-developed solutions, including a display featuring a flexible astronaut glove designed by an entrepreneur in response to a challenge from NASA in 2009—along with a host of other prize-winning gadgets.

  • A Renewed Commitment to Unleashing Open Data about the Earth

    Data about the Earth have long been vital to our Nation’s progress. Thomas Jefferson looked to Lewis and Clark to collect and bring back weather, water, and other data from their expeditions, and used those data to guide the development of frontier settlements and spur economic growth. 

    That tradition continues today on a global scale, as the United States and other nations collect and share high quality  data about the Earth that can help save lives and grow the economy. Data about weather systems, crops, and ecosystems, for example, help growers plan for planting and harvesting, help speed relief to disaster victims, and provide accurate information to decision makers and resource managers in every region of the country.

    Many nations around the world invest in the collection of data about the Earth, using a diverse array of sophisticated scientific instruments, and storing data that are collected in many different formats. Cooperation among partner nations is critically important to ensuring that scientists, researchers, decision makers, and innovators can extract the best value from these large and diverse datasets—wherever they may originate.

    The United States works to achieve this goal by collaborating closely with international partners as part of the Group on Earth Observations, or GEO. 

    Last week, at a series of meetings in Geneva, the United States marked its founding role in establishing GEO a decade ago—which today comprises 90 members and 77 participating organizations—and celebrated an important milestone as GEO’s charter was renewed for another 10 years.

  • Serving Up STEM at Aberdeen High

    Today, OSTP’s Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Patricia Falcone and Joining Forces Executive Director, Colonel Rich Morales, are visiting Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, MD, celebrating that school’s designation by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) as NMSI’s “School of the Year.”

    Aberdeen High is one of the Nation’s many schools with a high proportion of students whose parents are in the military—in this case, serving at the U.S. Army base at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). These children often face unique academic challenges, in part because their parents tend to move so frequently. That’s why, in 2010, OSTP and the White House Joining Forces initiative worked with NMSI to bring NMSI’s Comprehensive Advanced Placement (AP) Program to schools that serve large numbers of military families. The Program provides enhanced teacher training and mentorship, extra time on-task for students, Saturday study sessions, and incentives for students and teachers, all aimed at boosting success in AP courses—which can give students a significant advantage as they head to college.

    NMSI’s Aberdeen program launched in the 2012-2013 school year and made an immediate, impressive impact. The average increase in passing scores on AP math, science, and English exams was 137 percent—19 times the average increase nationally—and helped earn the school NMSI’s coveted  “School of the Year” award.

    OSTP asked two students to briefly describe their experiences in the Aberdeen program. Some excerpts: