Many school districts are facing serious budget challenges. Extracurricular activities like science fairs could be harder to host than ever before, which is unfortunate as science fairs can teach students valuable analytical skills and help them discover a love for science. Thus, it's welcoming to see that Google is joining the science fair business.
Google can offer students a chance to develop scientific projects even if their local districts can't afford to put on a competition.
Google hosted their first fair this year. Applicants used Google products (Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, etc.) to submit their projects. This gave students an opportunity to participate even if they didn't have the resources to travel to fairs.
The top winners of the inaugural Google Science Fair are three girls: Lauren Hodge (13-14 age group), Naomi Shah (15-16 age group), and Shree Bose (17-18 age group). The winners received numerous Google products, along with scholarships and internship offers from leading companies like National Geographic.
Skeptics might argue that Google is just thinking about their future sales by introducing their products early to impressionable young minds. After all, the Google fair is directed by the marketing department. Regardless of Google's motives, what they are doing is still engaging students to learn about science. The competition itself was also an encouraging experience, as Google exposed students to fun scientific and technological activities. For example, students sent Android phones 100,000 feet into the air with a weather balloon.
Google isn't the first large company to hold science fairs; Intel and Siemens host competitions, as well. At a time when school districts might have difficulty in funding local science fairs, it's encouraging to see that some corporations are stepping up to give students a chance to showcase their scientific ingenuity.