Washington • A 17-year-old Utah high school student shook hands with President Barack Obama on Tuesday after dazzling judges with her grasp of science.
Jayme Warner, a junior at InTech Collegiate High School in North Logan, won the senior division of the Dupont Challenge science essay competition, beating out more than 9,000 applicants nationwide and snatching a coveted invitation to the White House.
The president praised dozens of aspiring scientists and mathematicians at the second annual White House Science Fair, which showcased award-winning science projects of middle school and high school students from around the country.
"If we are recognizing athletic achievement, then we should also be recognizing academic achievement and science achievement," Obama said. "If we invite the team that wins the Super Bowl to the White House, then we need to invite some science fair winners to the White House as well."
Warner sat on stage behind the president during his remarks, facing an audience that included her father, Alan Warner, and her high school science teacher, Stephanie Kawamura.
"It was indescribably amazing there are no words for it," Warner said.
Warner's essay focused on the benefits of using salt to treat cystic fibrosis patients.
She was inspired to write her essay after her 8-year-old sister Katie was diagnosed with the disease and she saw her sister's marked improvement when she inhaled vaporized saltwater each day.
The junior is set for an early graduation this spring and will attend Utah State University next fall. Along with her trip to the White House, Warner earned a $5,000 savings bond and a trip to Orlando, Fla.