Local student’s science research impresses President Obama - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local student’s science research impresses President Obama

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A Carmel Valley student’s science project has impressed the President of the United States.

“It was really absolutely surreal. I couldn't believe it,” said Eric Chen.

CBS News 8 spoke to the Canyon Crest Academy senior on the phone about his visit to the White House Science Fair on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old says he’s shaken the hand of President Obama before but it was brief and not as intimate as it was in the White House dining room. Chen told the president about his research to create a medicine that treats influenza.

"This is really important. This could be the start of saving millions of lives,” said Obama.

Chen has won several prestigious awards worth a quarter of a million dollars.

"I was so honored that it was the President of the United States saying something like that to me. I couldn't process it at that point,” said Chen.

He was among 23 other students at the White House Science Fair. Chen won the 2014 Intel Talent Search and has won awards for Siemens Foundation Competition and the International Google Science Fair.

"I was presenting this project I've presented so many times before except it is to the President of the United States and it’s an amazing experience and amazing honor," said Chen.

The White House Science Fair is part of the president’s “educate to innovate campaign" that aims to inspire kids to explore science, technology, engineering and math known as STEM.

“You are going to do great. I will be on the lookout for this,” said Obama.

Chen was impressed with the president’s questions about drug companies’ reaction to a flu pill

"I really felt like the president was insightful and he was a really a smart guy,” said Chen.

He also liked his sense of humor when the president grabbed the module for the flu bug.

"This thing was in my nose just about three weeks ago. It lasted forever. I couldn't get rid of it...I’m just joking,” said Obama.

This was a moment Chen knows he’ll never forget and knows it’s all about saving lives and he’s only 18.

"I really feel like we should all do our part in order to help,” said Chen.

The senior will graduate from Canyon Crest Academy in a few weeks where he will attend Harvard next fall.

At the science fair the president dedicated $35 million for STEM education.

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