Page-Turning Device Invented by Girl Scouts Wows President Obama

A group of 6-year-old inventors demonstrated their device made for paralyzed and arthritic readers at the annual White House Science Fair.
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A group of 6-year-old inventors demonstrated their device made for paralyzed and arthritic readers at the annual White House Science Fair.
President Obama (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

A device constructed by a team of 6-year-old Girl Scouts caught the attention of President Obama at the White House’s fifth annual Science Fair this week.

As the youngest among the 35 chosen participants showcasing their inventions at the fair, the girls from Tulsa, Okla., distinguished themselves from the others by wearing red capes and calling themselves “Supergirls.” They were also given the opportunity to show Obama how their Lego-made, automatic page turner could help paralyzed or arthritic patients read books.

The girls’ troop leader, Suzanne Dodson, told Tulsa World that the girls came up with the idea after hearing from a librarian that certain book pages are harder to turn than others. When one of the girls mentioned that her grandmother had trouble turning pages, the others agreed that a device should be developed to make reading easier for those who are paralyzed or who have arthritis.

At the moment, the device only moves at one speed because it is a prototype, the girls explained, when asked by Obama if the device can slow down or speed up.

According to the New York Daily News, Obama got a kick out of discovering that the girls came up with their idea by having a brainstorming session, which prompted them to ask the president if he too has ever had a brainstorming session.

“I have had a brainstorming session, but I didn’t come up with anything this good,” Obama said. “So you guys are already better brainstormers than I am.” The girls’ meeting with the president ended with a group hug.

In addition to recognizing the nation’s budding innovators, the New York Daily News reported that Obama used the event as an opportunity to spotlight the $240 million in private-sector pledges that will go toward encouraging students from underrepresented groups to pursue science, technology, engineering and math. 

Learn more about the White House Science fair at whitehouse.gov and by watching the video below: