Middle- and high-school students from six continents share groundbreaking ideas in online competition
On September 22nd, the winners of the fourth-annual Google Science Fair competition will be announced. Recognizing the top tier of thousands of entries from more than 120 countries, the winners’ circle is unlikely to include even one baking soda volcano.
Since January of 2011, Google’s online science competition has drawn out enthusiastic scientists aged 13-18 from around the world, resulting in world-shaping proposals ranging from sophisticated new cancer treatments to (equally sophisticated) methods for creating plastic from banana peels and making a carcinogen-buffering marinade for barbecuing chicken.
This year’s finalists represent a wide range of interests and areas of research, and include a mechanism to prevent cyber-bullying, using diazotroph bacteria to hasten crop germination and increase yield, and an updated augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device for converting the breath patterns of disabled speakers into words. Prizes for competitors include scholarship money, Lego trophies, Google gift bags, mentoring, funding for projects and schools in need, and — for the grand prize winner(s) — even a tour of the Galapagos Islands.
Sponsored by Google, Lego, Virgin Galactic, National Geographic, and Scientific American, the fair aims to inspire “budding Einsteins and Curies” and build a global community for young scientific minds. The project’s website explains:
We believe that universal access to technology and information can truly make the world a better place. We also believe that the need for access to useful information transcends all borders. That’s why we created the Google Science Fair: to champion young scientific talent and give students across the world an opportunity to showcase ambitious ideas.
Next week, the 2014 finalists will compete in California for the three Age Category Awards (ages 13-14, 15-16, 17-18) as well as the overall Grand Prize Award by presenting their projects to a judge panel of leading scientists from across the field. After judges confer, the event will “end in style with an awards ceremony” and will be live streamed on the fair’s YouTube channel and on the program’s website.
“Science fairs help students to explore their vision and curiosity through science,” Google’s Tom Oliveri tells USA Today. Google itself, he notes, was first developed by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as a research project while both were PhD students at Stanford. “Our company was founded on an experiment,” Oliveri adds. “We firmly believe that science can change the world.”
Images: Arsh Shah Dilbagi, Pranav Sivakumar, Google, CBS