Broward News

Barack Obama Talks Up Peyton Robertson, Fort Lauderdale Kid Scientist

Barack Obama talked up a Pine Crest School student, 12-year-old Peyton Robertson, during a White House Science Fair on Tuesday.

Peyton had impressed the president with his invention of a lightweight sandless sandbag that holds back flooding and rising seas during a storm.

"When dry, my bags are really lightweight; they only weigh four pounds," Robertson told Obama as he demonstrated the bags. "But then when you add water, it expands and becomes heavy; it weighs 30 pounds."

"If you can buy stock in Peyton," Obama said during his address at the science fair, "you should do so now."

Peyton, who has won national competitions and appeared on various television shows, also demonstrated another invention for the president: retractable training wheels with handlebar controls.

"He actually had two projects here, both patents pending," Obama said. "This guy is something."

Obama explained in his remarks how Peyton came up with the idea of his reusable sandbags.

After Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005, Peyton began thinking about the ways people prepare for floods. He noticed that sandbags tend to weigh a lot and leak.

This led him to design reusable sandbags using polymers that expand when wet and weigh only four pounds when dry. The expansion of the sandbags help keep water from seeping in.

"It gives you a sense of the kind of inquisitiveness and ingenuity a young man like Peyton has," Obama said.

About a hundred students from more than 30 states came to the White House fair to show off their talents and ingenuity for the president.

Obama also took the opportunity to announce $35 million in Department of Education grants to support training of more science, engineering, and math teachers, an expansion of AmeriCorps to teach low-income students.

"I got to show him my project, and he definitely seemed impressed," Peyton said after meeting with the president. "The retractable training wheels he thought would be good for kids' toys. And he thought the sandbags would be helpful for emergency management and things like that."

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph