Education

Barack Obama Surprises Hundreds Of STEM Students With An Inspiring Message 

by Tod Perry

September 25, 2017

During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama made a huge commitment to improving the country’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The Obama administration secured over a billion dollars in private funding for STEM education, added a historic number of new math and science teachers, and invested over $30 billion across 14 federal agencies dedicated to STEM programs.

“We live in a time of extraordinary change,” Obama said in a 2016 weekly address, “change that’s affecting the way we live and the way we work. New technology replaces any job where work can be automated. Workers need more skills to get ahead. These changes aren’t new, and they’re only going to accelerate. So the question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘How can we make sure everyone has a fair shot at success in this new economy?’”

Obama at the 2013 White House Science Fair. Photo via The U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

In the final year of his presidency, Obama unveiled the Computer Science for All Initiative. The program followed up on his State of the Union promise to give “every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.” The initiative included over $4 billion to increase hands-on K-12 computer science instruction throughout the country.

Last week, the consortium held its national briefing — a conference call for over 1,000 educators and students — and there was a very special guest on the line.

On the call, Obama shared his belief in empowering America’s youth by positioning them to play an active role in the technology boom. “As I’ve always said, this country is at its best when we lift each other up and make sure that we’re extending opportunity to everybody,” Obama said. “We are inundated with technology, and I don’t want our young people to just be consumers, I want them to be producers of this technology and to understand it, to feel like they’re controlling it, as opposed to it controlling them.”

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Obama’s surprise appearance:

Share image via U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

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