This morning, the company announced its first worldwide science fair for students between the ages of 13 and 18. Students can participate from anywhere by posting a write-up of their project on the Internet (Google got one high school senior from Oregon to create an example). In its announcement, Google says it hopes this project will encourage talented young scientists to pursue their ideas:
In 1996, two young computer science students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had a hypothesis that there was a better way to find information on the web. They did their research, tested their theories and built a search engine which (eventually) changed the way people found information online. Larry and Sergey were fortunate to be able to get their idea in front of lots of people. But how many ideas are lost because people don’t have the right forum for their talents to be discovered?
This science fair sounds fancier than your average high school competition–prizes include a trip to the Galapagos and a jaunt to the physics mecca, CERN. We’ll be keeping an eye on the contest as it progresses to the final round of judging in July, which will take place at Google headquarters. See the science fair’s official site for info on how to enter and more.
As a goofy celebration of the inaugural event, Google commissioned a delightful Rube Goldberg machine from Syyn Labs, the same fine folks who made OK Go’s extravagant Rube Goldberg contraption.
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In 2009, the hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse released the song “Miracles.” The song asks how certain things work: stars, rainbows, inherited genetic traits, magnets–and other stuff to “shock your eyelids.” The exact lyrics are a bit off-color for this blog, but the two singing clowns certainly ask some valid questions. Unfortunately, the song attributes these scientific happenings to “magic” noting, “I don’t wanna talk to a scientist.”
For members of the somewhat nontraditional science outreach group Nosebridge, that simply wouldn’t do. Surely, Insane Clown Posse fans–called juggalos–wanted to know the real answer to how a “[expletive] magnet” works! So earlier this summer, the Nosebridge crew brought their posters to a crowd of fans waiting to go into a concert. Surely those fans would be interested in understanding the science behind apparent miracles like magnetism.
The videos and other pictures, available on the blog Laughing Squid, show the real magic that unfolded that evening. The Nosebridge team reports that many juggalos were very receptive to learning, for example, why a solar eclipse happens, but eventually San Francisco police had to step in to make sure things didn’t get too physical.
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Image: flickr /michiexile
Who doesn’t miss the excitement, the curiosity, the baking soda volcanoes of the typical grade-school science fair? Even the cutting-edge artists behind NYC’s Flux Factory got a little nostalgic recently, and decided to host a science fair of their own–but the displays are decidedly atypical, and there’s nary a volcano in sight. Try quantum physics and robots instead.
The science fair art exhibit was inspired by “the similarity between the creative and scientific process,” according to the organizers. And did we mention the trophies? Shiny awards were handed out to artists at an award ceremony last night for the best projects in such categories as “Big Violence,” “Most Empirically Rebellious,” and “Most Metaphysically Pursued.”
Science Fair runs through this weekend, so head over to Queens to check it out. Or you can click through this gallery for a selection of our favorite projects.
When other Albertans saw landfill fodder, 17-year-old Kyle Schole saw electricity. His project, “Microbial Degredation of Vehicle Tires,” which uses a strain of bacteria to harness energy from decomposing rubber tires, hasn’t yet hit the journal circuit. But it has won the farm-raised teenager a gold-prize at his national science fair.
Schole devised his plan while driving past an Alberta tire recycling plant. Though his town was already transforming tires into speed bumps and surfacing, he wanted to pop those wheelies into something more. He decided to make a few calls, and chatted up a few microbiologists from Canada, Scotland, and Australia. He then had to find the perfect rubber-munching bacteria.
His farm wasn’t equipped to deal with biohazardous materials so he spent his summer in labs at the Westlock Health Care Centre. He estimates that the project took him over 400 hours, but in the end he successfully created a microbial fuel cell that converts chemical energy released during the tire’s microbial decomposition into electricity. For his efforts, he won a $6,000 cash prize and a $10,000 scholarship to the Canadian university of his choice.
The “science fair maniac” told the The Edmonton Journal:
“I’m a very curious guy–whether it’s tinkering on the farm with my dad or working on science projects,” said Schole. “So I’m often thinking, ‘What would be a neat thing to test and improve on?’”
For more warm-fuzzies, see the CTV video coverage, with interview.
DISCOVER: Science Fair for a Better Planet
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The Loom: Microbial Art
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Image: flickr/Mykl Roventine