Google is an amazing company on many fronts, and the one of the most recent is the Google Science Fair. Google Science Fair is an online science competition for teenagers across the globe. The fair is sponsored by Google, Lego, National Geographic, Scientific American and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Recently the winners of the 2013 competition were announced, and their creativity and research savvy make me optimistic for the future of science. Entrants into the 2013 competition were challenged to change the world, and their projects may just do so.
- Grand prize winner, and winner of the 17-18 age group, Eric Chen developed a new anti-flu medicine.
- Winner in the 15-16 age group, Ann Makosinski developed a battery-free flashlight that generates power from the heat of the human hand.
- In the 13-14 age group, Viney Kumar developed a signaling system to alert cars of an approaching emergency vehicle in time to more safely move out of the way.
- Elif Bilgin won both the Voter’s Choice award and the Scientific American prize for science in action for her development of bioplastics from banana peels.
The website allows you to click the + near the winners’ pictures to see video of them describing the projects. Other finalists’ projects ranged from a “smart” home for individuals whose hearing and eyesight are fading to a device to keep fish from smothering under ice during the winter.
Studying the Google Science Fair website with students can provide models at many levels. First, of course, is it can provide models of outstanding projects requiring research and/or innovation–as opposed to yet another baking soda volcano. While some of the science is beyond the capacity of students without access to high quality labs, the general principles are the same. These students are not simply illustrating, they are asking questions and solving problems.
The student investigators also provide fine models of creators who look at problems in the world as challenges for exploration rather than causes for complaint. That sense of “we can fix that” is at the bottom of important creative endeavors, and at the heart of progress in science and innovation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of our students selected these young people as their role models (perhaps over the latest gyrating pop sensations)?
I can dream, can’t I?
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