At the White House Science Fair, President Barack Obama is set to announce pledges from the private sector amounting to over $240 million, every bit of which will be directed toward encouraging students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

The pledges will ramp up attention in those fields, most especially when total material and financial support for STEM education has reached $1 billion. Aside from simply generating interest in science, technology, engineering and math, this year's White House Science Fair is also gearing up to promote diversity.

The funding boost, which is part of the president's announcement, comes from a $90-million campaign for expanding STEM opportunities in underrepresented youth like girls and those in the minority, as well as a philanthropic effort that brought in $150 million to help scientists early in their careers to stay on track.

Over a hundred universities and colleges have made the commitment to train 20,000 engineers while a coalition of chief executive officers have promised to aid in the expansion of high-quality education programs focused on STEM fields for the benefit of 1.5 million more students in 2015.

"Educate to Innovate" was launched in 2009 to encourage students to explore STEM education. The White House Science Fair gives the campaign a boost by giving students an avenue to pursue science, technology, engineering and math. Over 35 teams qualified for the science fair's fifth year, each one of which may be cultivating future scientists, engineers and researchers.

To help kick off the event, President Obama met with science fair participants at the White House. High school seniors competing in the White House Science Fair were also finalists at the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search. Like the science fair, the talent search recognizes potential in innovative research projects in various STEM areas.

Finalists include Jennifer McCleary from California, for her work identifying materials that can harness solar power for producing hydrogen as fuel, and Emily Lorin Ashkin from North Carolina, for her research on treatment methods for skin cancers that are potentially fatal.

Aside from the White House Science Fair, President Obama is also scheduled to host the SELECTUSA Investment Summit on the same day at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The president will be delivering remarks as well at the event, which was started in 2011 as the first federal effort to attract investments in the U.S. with the goal of creating jobs.

Photo: Marc Nozell | Flickr 

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