Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Google's first science fair winners

Winners [from left to right] are Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose, Naomi Shah

"Girl Power Wins at Google’s First Science Fair"


Claire Cain Miller

July 13th, 2011

The New York Times

If Google’s first science fair is any indication, the top scientists of the future will be women. Google has announced the fair’s winners, and they are all girls.

Shree Bose, age 17, from Fort Worth, Tex., won the grand prize for developing a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients who have developed a resistance to chemotherapy. Naomi Shah, 16, from Portland, Ore., found ways to improve indoor air quality and decrease people’s reliance on asthma medications. And Lauren Hodge, 14, from Dallastown, Pa., researched the effects of different marinades on potential carcinogens in grilled chicken.

“As a girl, to see that my gender actually is going to come into this field that’s been so dominated by men is exciting to me, and to be a part of that is even more exciting,” Ms. Bose said in an interview.

Surprisingly for Google, a computer science company, the winners each did bioscience projects. But the entries were wide-ranging, as was the science fair. Teenagers anywhere in the world could enter the fair in areas from computer science to space exploration. Unlike other science fairs like those of Intel and Siemens, students entered online, instead of presenting their projects in a school gymnasium.

Ten thousand students from 91 countries entered 7,500 projects in the science fair, including transforming recycled cans into solar ovens, building robotic prosthetic limbs and developing 3-D indoor navigation for blind people. For a clue about what tomorrow’s scientists care most about, the most popular category was earth and environmental sciences.

Google invited 15 finalists to its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters this week. The winners received scholarships, internships at Google, CERN and Lego, and for Ms. Bose, a trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Explorer.

Google started the science fair to promote curiosity about science and experimentation among students, as one of the company’s several education projects. It was also a marketing tool for Google Apps, which compete with Microsoft and other companies. Google hoped to introduce students to Google’s Web products, like Google Sites, App Inventor and SketchUp, so they might continue to use them in college and the workplace.

That plan may have paid off. Ms. Bose said that she started her project planning to “cut and paste it onto a board” to present at an in-person science fair. But entering it online was much easier, she said. She used Google Sites, Docs and Scholar, and plans to continue to use the services.

Promoting women in science was not an explicit goal of Google’s and gender did not play a role in the judges’ decisions, said Vint Cerf, a Google Science Fair judge and the company’s chief Internet evangelist.

“But I was secretly happy to see that happen, because for ages men have dominated the science field, and in many cases women who have done excellent work have been ignored,” Mr. Cerf said in an interview.

In Silicon Valley, where men vastly outnumber women, Google has consciously tried to recruit more women. One way it did that was to hire women early on, like Marissa Mayer in engineering and Susan Wojcicki in ad sales, because the founders thought women would be more likely to join the company if they saw other women working there.

From Google...

"Hats off to the winners of the inaugural Google Science Fair"


Cristin Frodella

July 12th, 2011

Google Education Team

Yesterday, our top 15 Google Science Fair finalists descended on Google’s headquarters and wowed our luminary judges—as well as more than 1,000 local attendees plus Googlers who stopped by to check out the action. Our exhibit hall was buzzing with energy and excitement as everyone wondered which young scientists would go home with our top prizes.

The results are in—and this year was all about girl power. Our top three winners by age category are:

Lauren Hodge in the 13-14 age group. Lauren studied the effect of different marinades on the level of potentially harmful carcinogens in grilled chicken.

Naomi Shah in the 15-16 age group. Naomi endeavored to prove that making changes to indoor environments that improve indoor air quality can reduce people’s reliance on asthma medications.

Shree Bose in the 17-18 age group. Shree discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients when they have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs.

We also awarded one Grand Prize and the Grand Prize Winner is...Shree Bose; congratulations!

Our judges said the unifying elements of all three young women were their intellectual curiosity, their tenaciousness and their ambition to use science to find solutions to big problems. They examined complex problems and found both simple solutions that can be implemented by the general public—like changing your cooking habits or removing toxins from your home—as well as more complex solutions that can be addressed in labs by doctors and researchers, such as Shree’s groundbreaking discovery, which could have wider implications for cancer research.

The winners took home prizes furnished by Google and our partners CERN, LEGO and National Geographic. Shree received a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galápagos Islands with a National Geographic Explorer and aninternship at CERN. Naomi and Lauren each received $25,000 scholarships and internships at Google and LEGO. All three were awarded lifetime digital subscriptions to Scientific American. Beyond the grand prizes, everyone went home with some pretty cool loot, along with plenty of photos and memories that we hope will last a lifetime. If you’d like to watch last night’s events, including a speech from our chairman, Eric Schmidt, and presentations from judges Dean Kamen and Tierney Thys, you can find video on our YouTube channel.

On behalf of Google, our partners and science lovers everywhere, we’d like to thank all of our finalists and everyone who submitted a project to the inaugural Google Science Fair. We are humbled by your ingenuity, your dedication and your skill. We are heartened to know that our future is in the capable hands of our young scientists—young men and women who tackle big ideas to bring significant, actionable change to the world.

If you’d like information about next year’s Google Science Fair, let us know and we’ll be in touch soon, or keep an eye on the Google Science Fair site for regular updates.

Google Science Fair?

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