11-year-old Sylvia Todd becomes internet science star

Sylvia Todd screengrab (Courtesy YouTube)Sylvia Todd is a science superstar.

At just 11, she hosts the widely popular online "Sylvia's Super-Awesome Maker Show" on YouTube. She's in demand as a speaker, visits maker fairs, gives TED talks, and wins awards for her work in robotics.

Just last week, the Auburn, California, youngster won a silver medal in the 2013 Robo Games, an international robotics competition, in the "art bot" category.

This week, she took part in the invitation-only White House Science Fair where Obama tested her award-winning WaterColorBot, "a kid-friendly art robot that moves a paint brush to paint your digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolour paints," her website states.

"I shook his hand twice!" Sylvia told the New York Times of meeting the President. "And he picked up a printed version of the White House logo that my robot did."

"She demonstrates what kids could do in school if we build upon their curiosity and wide-eyed enthusiasm, instead of those endless tests," Dr. Gary Stager, an educational consultant who invited Sylvia to work with his students at his teacher-training institute in Los Angeles last summer, said of the online science sensation with more than 1.5 million views.

According to the New York Times, "The seeds for the show were planted when Sylvia was 5, and she and her father attended the Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., an annual event organized by Maker Magazine that celebrates makers and their projects. Two summers ago, Mr. Todd began videotaping Sylvia’s demonstrations, as a summer project."

Watch Sylvia's most popular "Super-Awesome" episode, on copper etching, below:

“Ever since I was really young I liked destroying stuff,” Sylvia said. “I’ve always been interested in making and doing things hands-on.”

The show is Sylvia's family's labour of love. Her father, James, a web developer, films each episode. Mom Christine pitches in ideas, too.

"I would say we spend maybe $100 a year," James said of the series budget. "We don't have a lot of money for this. Really, it just takes time."

Because money is tight for the family of five, Sylvia raises money online to pay for some of her trips, including the one to the White House.

Sylvia appreciates her online success, but when it comes to the future, she's looking at the literal stars, not the Hollywood ones: she wants to be an astronaut or aeronautical engineer when she grows up.