West Wing Week: 06/19/15 or, “Her Map & Compass”

This week was Maker Week and Pollinator Week! The President was a busy bee himself. He stopped by a Congressional baseball game and a Congressional picnic, congratulated My Brother's Keeper mentees, and presided over the ceremonial swearing-in of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Meanwhile, the First Lady crossed the Atlantic in the name of Let Girls Learn and Let's Move! That's June 12th to June 18th or, "Her Map & Compass."

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WhiteHouse.gov Is Evolving with You in Mind

The White House landing page on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices as of April 9, 2015

Last night, we released the first-ever responsive White House homepage. Here's what that means: The WhiteHouse.gov landing page now displays content in a consistent way, no matter which device you're using — desktop, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet. This also means that we're helping you find the most relevant content as quickly as possible.

This is a landmark change in a series of improvements to our online platforms to make them more accessible, user-friendly, and in line with modern best practices. And this is just the first phase in revamping the White House homepage. We will continue to iterate on the design and features, rolling out enhancements along the way.

Over recent months, we have released a series of responsive features and sections. These updates have included popular events like the State of the Union, as well as informational pages like the biographies of Presidents and First Ladies which receive a high volume of visitors every day. And over the next couple of months, we'll update some features we think you'll find useful as well as some popular sections including Latest News (also known as the White House blog) and the White House Press Office.

screenshot image of the 2015 State of the Union page

This section-by-section approach to upgrading WhiteHouse.gov lets us prioritize improving parts of the site that will be most valuable to you, enables us to roll out new features quicker and more frequently, and allows us to receive and incorporate your feedback along the way to help guide our efforts. Historically, projects like this have been undertaken as a single, large-scale overhaul for a whole site. The downside of that model is that it requires foreseeing exactly what the end product needs to be at the outset, and as a result, often misses the mark. The processes we're using now are known as "iterative design" and "agile development," and reflect a larger user-centric effort within the Federal government to transform the ways we design, build, and deliver technology.

Our design and development teams here at the White House have been using this model for several years, and we are part of a growing trend within the government – now being led in part by the efforts of groups like GSA’s 18F and the U.S. Digital Service, who are also looking to recruit talented design, development, and digitally-savvy problem solvers to do meaningful work solving problems within the United States government.

Our new homepage is just the latest example of our efforts to better serve the public.

Do you have feedback for how we can better serve your needs on WhiteHouse.gov? Let us know here.

Read more on design and development at the White House:

Are you a citizen developer interested in using government data or tools? Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Developers.

And for more regular updates on other exciting happenings on WhiteHouse.gov, follow us on Twitter @WHWeb.

Project management by Amanda Stone. Project design by James Hobbs. Leigh Heyman, Director of New Media Technologies, and Nathaniel Lubin, Acting Director of the Office of Digital Strategy, contributed to this post.
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The Incredible Kid-Ingenuity on Display at the 5th White House Science Fair

Today, the halls of the White House were packed with science projects -- robots, 3D-printed objects, computer programs, apps, and extraordinary scientific discoveries -- all built, invented, designed, and brought to fruition by students.

President Barack Obama greets Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O’Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma as he viewed their science exhibit during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The girls used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

At the 5th annual White House Science Fair, President Obama welcomed more than 100 students from more than 30 states for a celebration and showcase of their truly remarkable achievmenets in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

As part of the Science Fair, approximately 35 student teams exhibited innovative projects -- including discoveries and insights in key areas such as disease diagnostics, clean energy, and information security -- as well as inventions ranging from the “why didn’t I think of that?” (automatic page-turner for people with arthritis) to the “who’d have ever thought that possible?” (a hiccup-curing lollipop!).

The President personally viewed some of these projects, marveling at the incredible ingenuity on display from student innovators across the country including some as young as six years old.

President Barack Obama talks with Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez while viewing science exhibits during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the State Dining Room, March 23, 2015. The two 17-year-old students are current leaders of the robotics program from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Ariz., which was chronicled in the recent documentary "Underwater Dreams" where their under-served high school beat out MIT and other colleges in an underwater robotics competition. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy).

In remarks to an audience of science-fair participants, mentors, educators, and leaders in government, philanthropy, and the private sector, President Obama praised these extroadinary students:

“These young scientists and engineers teach us … how to question assumptions; to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better," the President said. "And they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine -- and that it’s never too early, or too late to create or discover something new." 

President Obama went on to describe how science shapes our world-view:

"That’s why we love science. It’s more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world, and to share this accumulated knowledge. It’s a mindset that says we that can use reason and logic and honest inquiry to reach new conclusions and solve big problems.”

POTUS Delivers remarks at 5th annual White House Science Fair

President Obama also announced a number of ambitious steps to continue to inspire young people like those at the Science Fair and ensure they are connected to the tools, resources, training, and mentors they need to achieve their STEM goals. Here are just some of the announcements the President made today:

  • A $150-million philanthropic effort to empower a diverse cadre of promising early-career scientists to stay on track to become scientific leaders of tomorrow
  • The $90-million Let Everyone Dream campaign to expand STEM opportunities to under-represented youth
  • A $25-million Department of Education competition to create science- and literacy-themed media that inspires students to explore
  • 120 universities and colleges committing to train 20,000 engineers to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of the 21st century
  • A coaltion of CEOs called Change the Equation committing to expand effective STEM programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year

All told, the steps launched today bring the Administration’s grand total up to $1 billion in commitments and in-kind support to advance the President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, which aims to inspire more girls and boys to excel in STEM subjects.

To highlight the theme of this year’s science fair -- Diversity and Inclusion in STEM -- Administration leaders hosted two roundtable discussions in which students shared stories about opportunities and challenges they face in STEM studies.

Kaitlin Reed demonstrates to President Barack Obama the attachable lever she developed that can make wheelchair movements easier and less tiring, during the 2015 White House Science Fair in the Blue Room, March 23, 2015. With Kaitlin is Mohammed Sayed, who developed a 3D-printed modular arm for his wheelchair that can be used as a food tray, camera tripod, rain canopy, laptop holder, and cup holder. The two 16-year-old students are from Massachusetts. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

In the morning, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarret, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Associate Director for Science Jo Handelsman, and OSTP Principal Assistant Director for Energy and Environment Tammy Dickinson met with all-star female students participating in this year’s White House Science Fair. There was a lively discussion of the changing image of women in STEM and the need for even more extraordinary female role models to step up and tell their STEM stories.

In the afternoon, Vice President Biden joined a group of students, teachers, and STEM advocates for a discussion on the importance of providing access to STEM education to all Americans, regardless of background. The Vice President -- joined by NFL player Victor Cruz and actress Cierra Ramirez -- talked with the students about the tremendous opportunities that are becoming available every day because of advances in science and technology. He closed reminding participants never to lose faith in their own abilities to shape the future.

It was a whirlwind day for science and engineering at the White House! Geeks descended upon 1600 Pennsylvania -- filling rooms and halls from the State Dining room to the East Garden -- and showcasing more discoveries, inventions, and bright ideas than ever before.

We can’t wait to keep track of where these incredible young innovators go next!

President Barack Obama hugs Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O’Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma after viewing their science exhibit during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The girls used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Becky Fried is Deputy Assistant Director for Strategic Communications at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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The White House Names Dr. DJ Patil as the First U.S. Chief Data Scientist

Today, I am excited to welcome Dr. DJ Patil as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist here at the White House in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Obama has prioritized bringing top technical talen... Read more »

Uniting in Support of Broadband that Works

“21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure -- modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains, and the fastest internet.” “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every commu... Read more »

What You Need to Know About President Obama’s New Steps on Cybersecurity

President Barack Obama tours the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia. He is accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Securi... Read more »

The Year in Review: A Look Back at the Most Memorable Moments of 2014

A responsible end to the war in Afghanistan. A historic agreement to combat climate change. A strong pace job growth that we haven't seen since the 1990s. 

Overall, 2014 has offered some great achievements for President Obama and the American people. Join the President's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in taking a look back at this year's most memorable moments — then share the memories with your friends and family. 

View 2014

Don't miss out on what else happened at the White House this year — both online and off:

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Celebrating Computer Science Education Week, Kids Code at the White House

  Today – on the first day of 2014 Computer Science Education Week (#CSEdWeek) – President Obama is welcoming approximately 30 middle-school-aged students from Newark, NJ, and Brooklyn, NY, to roll up their sleeves, get online togethe... Read more »

“It’s Time to Go Fly”: Successful Launch of Orion Heralds First Step on Journey to Mars

Ed. note: This post is written by NASA's Steven Siceloff. You can read the original post here.

Orion Launches on First Steps to Mars

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, with NASA's Orion spacecraft mounted atop, lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 37 at at 7:05 a.m. EST. December 5, 2014. (by Bill Ingalls/NASA)

NASA marked a critical step on the journey to Mars with its Orion spacecraft during a roaring liftoff into the dawn sky over eastern Florida on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket.

Once on its way, the Orion spacecraft accomplished a series of milestones as it jettisoned a set of fairing panels around the service module before the launch abort system tower pulled itself away from the spacecraft as planned.

The spacecraft and second stage of the Delta IV rocket settled into an initial orbit about 17 minutes after liftoff. Flight controllers put Orion into a slow roll to keep its temperature controlled while the spacecraft flew through a 97-minute coast phase.

The cone-shaped spacecraft did not carry anyone inside its cabin but is designed to take astronauts farther into space than ever before in the future.

Orion's first flight test is expected to be one for the books: the first mission since Apollo to carry a spacecraft built for humans to deep space, the first time NASA's next-generation spacecraft is tested against the challenges of space, and the first operational test of a heat shield strong enough to protect against 4,000-degree temperatures.

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