May 10, 2011

Google Announces an International Field of Science Fair Semi-Finalists

Just as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) welcomed 1543 young scientists in Los Angeles, Google announced a slate of 60 semi-finalists in the first totally online international science fair.

Open to students 13 to 18, the Google Science Fair received over 7500 entries from more than 90 countries around the world, including a number from students in DC area high schools who beyond conducting experiments devoted hours devising online presentations and completing technical requirements for the fair.

To get the competition started, an international team of teachers was given the task of evaluating the projects on creativity, scientific merit, and “global relevance.” This was no easy assignment as projects covered a wide range of topics from cancer treatment to renewable oceanic energy to aeronautic auto-pilot algorithms.

And the projects are amazing. Semi-finalists included experiments on the effects of coffee on plant growth in the 13-14-year old category, an alternative optical analyzer in the 15-16 year old age group, and a project on Autism Spectrum Disorder in the 17-18 age group.

Although most of the 60 semi-finalists were from the US, there was also representation from the UK, New Zealand, Canada, India, Singapore, and South Africa.

Locally, Rishabh Mazmuder from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Saumil Bandyopadhyay of the Maggie L. Walker School, and Nicholas Montgomery of the Loudon County Academy of Science were named as semi-finalists. All three are seasoned science fair competitiors.

But the competition is far from over. Unlike more traditional science fairs, the public is being given a chance to weigh in on the projects.

Separate from the official judging, voting is now open for a $10,000 “People’s Choice” scholarship. You are invited to go to the Google Science Fair website, review the entries, and cast your vote between now and May 20. Individuals can vote once in each of the three age categories.

The People’s Choice winner will be announced on May 23, along with 5 finalists in each age category who will be invited to Google headquarters for the final round of judging. Grand prizes include a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands and a $50,000 scholarship.

And then there’s always next year. Google has already posted a sign-up sheet for the 2012 Science Fair.

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