Science fairs have come a long way from the days of those white cardboard tri-fold displays you had to decorate with construction paper letters and very messy Elmer's glue. In my youth, we were tasked with menial experiments like investigating which object has the most buoyancy when placed in orange juice or how to make a baking soda volcano. We were hardly doing anything meaningful, like curing cancer.
Because they like to be involved in literally everything there is, Google has partnered with CERN, The LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American to launch their second annual Google Science Fair. As Google says, it's the "largest online science competition in the world, open globally to students ages 13-18." Check out their accompanying video that introduces this year's competition and, while you're at it, note how much more compelling the competition's mission is because of the British accented voiceover:
An update on Google's official blog goes on to explain more about the competition:
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.
Good lord. When I was a sixteen-year-old girl, I wasn't doing anything nearly as meaningful as solving energy surges in rural village in India. It's humbling what these kids are capable of these days. And here all anybody wants to worry about is the scourge of sexting among adolescent and how our culture is slowly eroding any sense of morality in today's youth. Bullfeathers. These Google Science Fair kids are future human supreme.
Today is the ribbon-cutting moment of the 2012 edition of Google Science Fair and submissions will be accepted until Sunday, April 1 at 11:59 GMT (I'm presuming that's the PM version of 11:59 but the Google post didn't specify so maybe it'd be better for all involved parties to not wait till the last minute to get your submission in, eh kids?). To get your appetite for science growling, Google is offering prizes such as a $50,000 college scholarship and a 10-day trip to Galapagos (go get yer Darwin on, young brainiacs!).
Additional information was included in Google's email announcement that highlight changes to this year's competition in order to "make it even more global":
Do any of you readers know of any teenagers that participated in last year's Google Science Fair? If so, tell us a bit more about them in the comments.