Two Hispanic sisters from Presidio, Texas, have had their efforts and their inventiveness at designing rockets recognized by being invited to participate in the White House Science Fair, which is sponsored by President Barack Obama.

Janet and Ana Karen Nieto are following in the footsteps of older brother Hilario by deciding to devote their efforts to science, thus responding to the great obsession their parents have had ever since they immigrated to the United States from Mexico, namely that their children study hard to get ahead.

"Every day that we stayed after school to work on the projects my parents would come to school to bring us food," 15-year-old Ana Karen told Efe emotionally, "and thanks to them and to our English teacher we've gotten here (to the White House Science Fair)."

Presidio is in Texas' third-poorest school district, and so at their school they have to resort to their imaginations and creativity to finance their projects.

"We raffle goats, because almost everyone who lives in Presidio is Mexican and they're interested in livestock. We sell food when people are leaving Mass and we organize an art festival in May," Ana Karen said.

Ana Karen and Janet, 17, are members of the rocketry team at Presidio High School, which became a national finalist in the Team America Rocketry Challenge in the last three such contests.
The Presidio High team began with only four members and now, four years later, there are more than 30, Ana Karen said.

"Our teacher Adelina began encouraging my siblings and they inspired me to go into science. She wanted to be an astronaut, it was her dream, and today she's here accompanying us (and is) very proud of us," she added.

More than 100 teenagers from 45 states were at the White House Science Fair to present their research and scientific studies in a great diversity of areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, projects with which they had won their state contests.

The fair, which has doubled its participation over what it was in its first edition held in late 2010, served Obama as a platform to propose an $80 million plan to improve mathematics and science instruction in U.S. public schools.

"We know that innovation has helped each generation pass down that basic American promise, which is no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you can make it if you try," he told the students, praising them for "making sure America will win the race to the future.

 

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