Sunday, January 15, 2012 | 12:25 PM
Are human beings born curious, or can curiosity be nurtured through environment, competition or a good teacher? Everyone’s got a question—that’s ours. But we’re sure you’ve got tons of questions, too. Today, we’re inviting students around the world to pose their most pressing questions about the world around them and answer those questions through scientific inquiry.
Along with our partners CERN, The LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American, today we’re launching the second annual Google Science Fair, the largest online science competition in the world, open globally to students ages 13-18. Either individually or in teams of up to three people, students pose a question, develop a hypothesis and conduct science experiments to test it. The entire process is detailed and submitted online, via a website template participants fill out themselves, so all you need to participate is curiosity, an Internet connection and a browser.
Last year, we received entries that strove to solve a wide variety of needs, from “How can I cure cancer?” to “Can I teach a robot to learn English?” to “Can I build a faster sailboat?” The breadth and depth of these projects was incredibly impressive, and this year we hope to see even more entries from the next generation of brilliant young scientists.
This year’s fair will be even more global than the last: We’re now accepting submissions in 13 languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Russia). We will also be recognizing 90 regional finalists (30 from the Americas, 30 from the Asia Pacific and 30 from Europe/Middle East/Africa). From these 90, to be announced in May, our judges will select the top 15 finalists, who will be flown to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. for our live Google Science Fair final event on July 23, 2012. At the finals, a panel of distinguished international judges (like Vint Cerf, Sylvia Earle and Nobel Laureates David Gross and Ada Yonath) will select top winners in each age category (13-14, 15-16, 17-18).
We’re also introducing a new category for this year’s competition—the Scientific American Science in Action award. We were so inspired by 2011 finalist Harine Ravichandran’s project, which attempted to solve energy surges in rural villages, that we decided to recognize an outstanding project that addresses a social, environmental or health need to make a difference in the lives of a group or community, as Harine’s project did for her grandparents’ village in India. The winner will also be flown to Mountain View for the finalist event in July.
The Google Science Fair opens today, January 12, worldwide, and we’ll accept submissions until Sunday, April 1 at 11:59pm GMT (or 6:59pm ET/3:59pm PT). In addition to satisfying your curious mind, your brilliant project can also help to win you some pretty cool prizes, like a $50,000 college scholarship from Google, a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with a National Geographic Explorer or an internship at Google or any one of our partners. Our Scientific American Science in Action award winner will earn $50,000 and year-long mentorship to make their project goal a reality.
The winners of last year’s inaugural Google Science Fair became something like scientific rock stars. Shree Bose, Naomi Shah and Lauren Hodge met with President Obama, were invited to speak at big events like TEDx Women and were featured in Wired magazine. Shree, our grand prize winner, was named one of Glamour magazine’s 21 Amazing Young Women of the Year. White House visits and Glamour aside, every student in the Google Science Fair has the chance to do hands-on research that can truly change the world.
Visit google.com/sciencefair and ask your most burning questions at the top of your voice for the world to hear. Google itself was founded through experimentation and with the Google Science Fair, we hope to inspire scientific exploration among the next generation of scientists and engineers, celebrate scientific talent, create scientific role models and unite students around the world in the quest for learning.