Google Science Fair!
Time to get inspired, gang…
Do you have an amazing idea that could make the world a better place? Well, Google Science Fair is where you can make it happen!
Google Science Fair is an online competition that encourages students from all around the world (aged 13–18) to use science and engineering to make something better.
The best entries will receive some seriously awesome prizes. We’re stoked that National Geographic is partnering with Google Science Fair on the National Geographic Explorer Award. The winner of this award receives a $15,000 scholarship, a National Geographic Expedition to the Galapagos, and a year-long mentorship. Wow!
Time to get inspired! Let’s find out how a few past Google Science Fair finalists and winners have used science to make a difference…
Name: Deepika Kurup
Country: United States
In 2015, Deepika won the National Geographic Explorer Award at Google Science Fair. For her project, she developed a way to use solar-powered silver to remove bacteria from water. The result: clean, safe drinking water.
Deepika says that she was inspired to find a solution to the world’s clean water problem on her summer visits to India, where she was concerned to see children drinking water that she felt ‘was too dirty to even touch’.
Since her win at GSF, Deepika (now a student at Harvard University) has teamed up with her friend Scott Xiao to create Aquidas, a social enterprise that will use Deepika’s award-winning water purification technology to develop safe, sustainable and cost-effective water purification systems in developing countries.
Deepika is keen to encourage young people to think about how they can use science to ‘revolutionise the world’. She says, ‘Young people can start to make a difference by learning about problems that affect them at a local, or global level, and then use science to try and tackle these grand challenges!’
Young Aussie scientist Viney Kumar was a Global Finalist and Age Category Award winner at the 2013 Google Science Fair. NG KiDS caught up with Viney to find out about his GSF experience:
NG KiDS: What challenges did you face as you worked on your GSF project?
Viney: Many! Defining the problem briefly and clearly is the toughest bit because that sets the direction for your whole project. I spent a lot of time doing just that. That laid open the pathway to multiple solution options, but choosing the right solution option was also complex.
NG KiDS: How did you overcome these challenges?
Viney: The key to problem definition was to research deeply till I got to the root cause of my problem.
NG KiDS: What was the highlight of your Google Science Fair experience?
Viney: It was definitely the opportunity to meet other like-minded kids from across the world and share knowledge, accomplishments and plans. We even worked together on a joint problem-solving exercise!
NG KiDS: What have you been up to since Google Science Fair?
Viney: The Google Science Fair has inspired me to engage in a process of active and continual learning from the world around me and through reading. The desire to learn really became a passion after the GSF and I was motivated to participate in other ventures, which involved getting out of my comfort zone.
Name: Mihir Garimella
Country: United States
Big idea: Fruit fly-inspired flying robots
‘Flying robots are being used for a variety of tasks, such as search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings. In the environments in which these robots operate, it is particularly important to evade moving threats, but current methods are limited and impractical. I aimed to create a simpler, faster, and more practical method of threat evasion, inspired by the way fruit flies detect and respond to threats. I designed a lightweight sensor module, modelled after the fruit fly”s rudimentary visual system, and created algorithms to model the trajectory of and escape from approaching threats by mimicking fruit fly escape behaviours.’
Name: Ann Makosinski
Big idea: A battery-free flashlight
‘My objective in my project was to create a flashlight that runs solely on the heat of the human hand. Using four Peltier tiles and the temperature difference between the palm of the hand and ambient air, I designed a flashlight that provides bright light without batteries or moving parts. My design is ergonomic, thermodynamically efficient, and only needs a five-degree temperature difference to work and produce up to 5.4 mW at 5 foot candles of brightness.’
Name: Alex Spiride
Country: United States
Big idea: Squid jet – underwater propulsion
‘Squid and some other sea creatures use a very efficient mode of locomotion, know as jet propulsion. Squid will draw water into a bladder through a hole called the mantle, and then they force it out, by contracting the bladder, to shoot forwards in speeds of up to 40 km/hour. Implementing this technique in underwater vehicles can vastly improve the efficiency with which they locomote. My proposal is Squid-Jet, a bio-inspired underwater vehicle that uses jet propulsion to its advantage. Squid-Jet easily outperforms current manmade propulsion systems and can reach speeds in excess of 30 cm/second.’
Name: Elif Bilgin
Big idea: Creating bioplastics from banana peel
‘My project is about using banana peels in the production of bio-plastic as a replacement of the traditional petroleum based plastic. In this project, I developed a method for making plastic by using banana peels and found new areas for the use of the plastic that I manufactured: using the bio-plastic in the making of cosmetic prosthesis and in the insulation of cables. This project was done over a time period of 2 years. During this time period, I was able to succeed in my endeavour to manufacture plastic that can actually be used in daily life.’
Find out more about Google Science Fair, here!
PHOTOS: TOMATOES AND LA TOMATINA / GETTY IMAGES UK