Young Plano scientist honored at the White House

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by SUE TURNER

WFAA

Posted on October 18, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 19 at 1:26 AM

WASHINGTON — A North Texas teenager has come up with a possible breakthrough in the battle against cancer.

Williams High School junior Amy Chyao of Plano was among the young people hosted by President Obama Monday for the first-ever White House Science Fair.

The event honored winners in a variety of science, technology, engineering and math competitions.

It's all part of the President's push to increase students' skills in science and math.

The president said he welcomes every championship sports team to the White House — he also wants to also welcome the winners in academics.

Amy Chyao developed a photosensitized for photodynamic therapy using light energy to activate a drug that kills cancer cells.

"Photodynamic therapy has a lot of promise because it specifically only attacks cancer cells," she explained to President Obama.

The president said he was equally impressed with the other 11 teams being honored at the White House, who all offered something that could change the way we do things.

Some young people from Phoenix sold tamales to pay for their trip to the competition where they won.

"This chair is to help physical therapists and teachers give physical therapy to children on a daily basis," explained Diego Vazquez of Caesar Chavez high School. "It's manually moved from position to position."

They came up with the idea after seeing students in their school in a special ed class.

"It's in these pursuits that talents are discovered and passions are lit and the future scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs are born," the president said.

Obama also announced some new programs Monday to encourage math and science. Leading CEOs will start an online campaign to show students jobs that are available in science and engineering.

And Amy Chyao isn't just a science whiz; she participated in the National Spelling Bee at age 13. That won her a trip to the White House in 2007, where she received a signed photo of first lady Laura Bush.

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