And the winner of the 2013 Google Science Fair is...

Do you have an idea to change the world? That’s what we asked the 2013 Google Science Fair participants back in January, and students ages 13-18 from around the world met our challenge. Today, the finalists—representing eight different countries—gathered at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. and presented their projects to a panel of esteemed judges. Attendees of the Fair and judges alike were wowed by the finalists’ passion for science and their drive to change the world.

The top 15 projects were selected from thousands of entries submitted by talented young scientists from more than 120 countries around the world. These projects were impressive and represented a vast range of scientific ingenuity—from a multi-step system created for early diagnosis of melanoma cancers to the invention of a metallic exoskeleton glove that assists, supports and enhances the movement of the human palm to help people who suffer from upper hand disabilities.

It was a tough decision, but we’re proud to name the three winners of this year’s Google Science Fair:

  • 13-14 age category: Viney Kumar (Australia) — The PART (Police and Ambulances Regulating Traffic) Program. Viney’s project looked for new ways to to provide drivers with more notice when an emergency vehicle is approaching, so they can can take evasive action to get out of the emergency vehicle’s way.
  • 15-16 age category: Ann Makosinski (Canada) — The Hollow Flashlight. Using Peltier tiles and the temperature difference between the palm of the hand and ambient air, Ann designed a flashlight that provides bright light without batteries or moving parts.
  • 17-18 age category AND Grand Prize Winner: Eric Chen (USA) — Computer-aided Discovery of Novel Influenza Endonuclease Inhibitors to Combat Flu Pandemic. Combining computer modeling and biological studies, Eric’s project looks at influenza endonuclease inhibitors as leads for a new type of anti-flu medicine, effective against all influenza viruses including pandemic strains.
Viney, Ann, Elif and Eric

Each of the winners will receive prizes from Google and our Science Fair partners: CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and “Scientific American.” This evening, we also recognized Elif Bilgin, from Istanbul, Turkey, the winner of the “Scientific American” Science in Action Award and the winner of the Voter’s Choice award with her project creating plastic from banana peel.

Thanks to all our 2013 finalists for their amazing projects and love for science. For updates on next year’s competition, see the Google Science Fair website.

Science and technology are crucial to solving many of the world’s greatest challenges. We started the Google Science Fair to support and foster the next generation of scientists and engineers. We look forward to seeing you change the world!

Help inspire the next generation of technology creators: Apply for a 2014 RISE Award

Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is crucially important—breakthroughs don't happen without people to make them. We want students to not just be consumers of technology, but also creators of it; to enrich not only their own lives, but those of their communities. That's the motivation behind the Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards.
Given once a year, Google RISE Awards are designed to promote and support education initiatives to increase engagement in science and technology, especially computer science. Google grants awards of $15,000 - $50,000 USD to non-for-profit organizations around the world working to expand access to these fields for K-12/Pre-University students, specifically girls and underrepresented groups.

In 2013, 30 organizations received RISE grants—with projects ranging from robotics contests in Germany to programming challenge days for girls in New Zealand. In June, we brought all of our partners together for a Global Summit. It was an inspiring meeting, and since the Summit several organizations have begun to work together to expand their reach.

For example, our RISE partners in Nigeria, WAAW Foundation and W-TEC, have teamed up to organize a one-week residential Advanced STEM Camp. The program launched this week and will provide 27 public school girls exposure to robotics. Over in Argentina, an organization already connecting Belgium to Argentina is is now collaborating with another on programming workshops for students and teachers. And organizations in Liberia and India are sharing resources to overcome common challenges in access to technology for girls.
The hard work of RISE organizations has also drawn support from leading figures such as President Obama, Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny and HRH Prince Andrew.

We’re looking for more organizations to partner with in 2014. Submit your application by September 30, 2013. You can submit your application in English, French, Japanese, Russian or Spanish; all eligible countries are listed on our website. Show us what you can do to get students excited about STEM and CS!

Supercharge your summer at Maker Camp

We’re pleased to have Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of MAKE magazine and Maker Faire, join us today to talk about Maker Camp—a free, online summer camp for teens on Google+. Last year, more than 1 million campers joined in, and this summer is looking even brighter. Maker Camp will officially kick off at 11 a.m. PDT / 2 p.m. EDT today in a live Hangout On Air from San Francisco’s Exploratorium and will go on for the next six weeks. - Ed.

Camping has long been a summer tradition that calls us to explore the outdoors, engage in fun activities and make new friends. Overnight camping might involve setting up tents and gathering around a campfire, while day camps can focus on areas of interest such as chess, computers, robotics or sports (we’ve worked with a lot of these at Maker Media). Yet no matter what kind of camp it is, or where it takes place, camp has to be fun and social.

Maker Camp is a whole new kind of camp: an online summer camp that is completely free and open to everyone. Maker Camp takes place wherever you are, by letting you do fun activities and share them with others through the Google+ platform. You’ll make cool projects, go on epic virtual “field trips” and meet awesome makers.

This is Maker Camp’s second summer, and the format is similar: Each weekday morning, we’ll post a new project or activity on our Google+ page—30 things to make over six weeks. Each weekday afternoon, tune in to a live Google+ Hangout On Air to meet expert makers who create amazing things. And like last year, our Field Trip Friday Hangouts will take you to new places that few of us get to see. For instance, we’re excited to take you to NASA Ames Research Center next week, and this week we’ll be checking out one of the world’s fastest sailboats, from Oracle Team USA.

We’ve added a few things to make this year's Maker Camp even better. There's a new Google+ Community for Maker Camp, so it will be even easier for you to chat with other campers and see what they’re working on. We also have a network of affiliate camps (we call them “campsites”), so you can create and make together in your local library, youth club or makerspace. If there’s a campsite near you, you’ll find it on this map. We’ve worked with Google to supply many of these campsites with maker equipment like soldering kits, LEDs, Raspberry Pi boards (mini Linux computers), and Arduino microcontrollers (good for making robots and other gadgets).

Maker Camp hopes to foster the DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit in young people. We want each camper to see how much there is that you can do and how much there is to explore all around you. Once you begin doing things, you’ll meet others who share your interests, and you can collaborate to work on projects together. We call that DIT (do-it-together). Google+ is a platform for that kind of collaboration, and it extends to any location and any time zone. And when Maker Camp comes to an end, you’ll have friendships that last beyond summer.

Maker Camp might not be surrounded by trees or near a lake, but it has many of the wonderful features of camping. For instance, you can think of your computer as the campfire that we gather around, and with more than a million campers, our virtual campfire is pretty big! Plus, like any camp, you’ll get the most out of Maker Camp by participating. Meet other makers, get involved in conversations, do things you’ve never done before and most of all, make something!

What each of us can do is pretty amazing, yet what we can do together is even more amazing. In that spirit, I invite you all to join us at Maker Camp, starting today. Just follow Make on Google+ to join, and let’s make this the best summer ever.

Connecting across continents

There’s only so much students can learn about the world from the static pages of a textbook. Meeting people from other countries face-to-face provides unique insight into the world’s varied cultures, and the Internet is making this possible in unprecedented ways. To increase global connections, we’re working with First Lady Michelle Obama, the State Department and the Global Nomads Group, to connect students across continents over Google+ Hangouts.

As a keystone event in The White House’s Africa Tour, the First Lady will host a Google+ Hangout On Air from the SciBono Discovery Center in Johannesburg this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. EDT. After Mrs. Obama shares her thoughts on the importance of education, students in Johannesburg, L.A., Houston, New York, and Kansas City will get the chance to talk with one another directly, sharing ideas about education in their countries face-to-face-to-face—it’s a 21st-Century pen pal program, hosted by the First Lady. (RSVP to watch.)

The discussion won’t stop there. This Hangout On Air kick-starts a series of global exchanges on Google+, organized by the State Department and the Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural exchanges, launching early in the new school year. During the summer, students are encouraged to join the Global Nomads Group’s Google+ Community, “Connecting Continents,” to discover and connect with peers around the world. We look forward to announcing the next hangouts in the near future—stay tuned to the Global Nomads Community for details.

Google scholarships recognize 84 computer science scholars in Europe, Middle East, and Africa

We’d like to recognize and congratulate the 84 recipients and finalists of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship and Google Scholarship for Students with Disabilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The full list of the 2013 scholars and finalists and the universities they attend can be found in this PDF.

Both scholarships aim to encourage underrepresented students to enter the computing field. The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship honours the memory of Dr. Anita Borg who devoted her life to encouraging the presence of women in computing; we recently announced the U.S. recipients of this scholarship. The Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities aims to help dismantle barriers for students with disabilities as well as encourage them to excel in their studies and become active role models and leaders in creating technology.

All of the students receiving the scholarships are pursuing degrees in computer science or related fields at universities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This summer, they’ll attend the annual Google EMEA Scholarships Retreat in Zurich, where they’ll have the opportunity to attend tech talks on Google products, participate in developmental sessions, network with Googlers and attend social activities. Notable speakers at the 2013 retreat include Alan Eustace, SVP of Knowledge, Megan Smith, VP of Google [x], and Caroline Casey, Founder of

Applications for the scholarships will be open again in just a few short months. Learn more about how the scholarships impacted the lives of previous recipients:

For more information on all of our scholarships and programs, please visit the Google Students site.

90 ideas to change the world: Announcing Google Science Fair Finalists

Many great scientists developed their curiosity for science at an early age and in January we called on the brightest young minds from around the world to send us their ideas to change the world. Our 2013 Google Science Fair attracted an exciting and diverse range of entries, with thousands of submissions from more than 120 countries.

After a busy few months for the judges, we’re ready to reveal our 90 regional finalists for the 2013 Google Science Fair. It was no easy task selecting these projects, but in the end their creativity, scientific merit and global relevance shined through. This year’s finalists projects range from using banana peels to produce bioplastics to research into a green treatment for contaminated water. Other projects include a study on the effects of video gaming on the cognitive function of the brain and the evaluation of wireless transmission of electricity.

The 90 Regional Finalists come from all over the world.

For the second year, we’ll also be recognizing the Scientific American Science in Action Award. This award honors a project that makes a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge. From the 90 finalists’ projects, 15 were nominated for this year’s award.

On June 27 we’ll announce the 15 global finalists and the winner of the Science in Action Award. These young scientists will then be flown to Google’s California headquarters for the last round of judging and a celebratory event on September 23.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a project—we really appreciate all your hard work. Congratulations to our 90 regional finalists!

Congratulations to the 2013 Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholars

Dr. Anita Borg revolutionized the way we think about technology and worked to dismantle the barriers that keep women and minorities from entering the computing and technology fields. In her lifetime, Anita founded the Institute for Women and Technology (now The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology), began an online community called Systers for technical women, and co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. We’re proud to honor her memory through the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, established in 2004.

Today we’d like to recognize and congratulate the 30 Google Anita Borg Memorial scholars and the 30 Google Anita Borg Memorial finalists for 2013. The scholars, who attend universities in the United States and Canada, will join the annual Google Scholars’ Retreat this summer in New York City, where they will have the opportunity to attend tech talks on Google products, network with other scholars and Googlers, participate in developmental activities and sessions, and attend social activities. This year, the scholars will also have the opportunity to participate in a scholars’ edition of 24HoursOfGood, a hackathon in partnership with local non-profit organizations who work on education and STEM initiatives to make progress against a technical problem that is critical to their organization’s success.

Find out more (PDF) about our winners, including the institutions they attend. Soon we’ll select the Anita Borg scholars from our programs around the world. For more information on all our scholarships, visit the Google Scholarships site.

A new kind of summer job: open source coding with Google Summer of Code

If you’re a university student with CS chops looking to earn real-world experience this summer, consider writing code for a cool open source project with the Google Summer of Code program.

Over the past eight years more than 6,000 students have “graduated” from this global program, working with almost 400 different open source projects. Students who are accepted into the program will put the skills they have learned in university to good use by working on an actual software project over the summer. Students are paired with mentors to help address technical questions and concerns throughout the course of the project. With the knowledge and hands-on experience students gain during the summer they strengthen their future employment opportunities in fields related to their academic pursuits. Best of all, more source code is created and released for the use and benefit of all.

Interested students can submit proposals on the website starting now through Friday, May 3 at 12:00pm PDT. Get started by reviewing the ideas pages of the 177 open source projects in this year’s program, and decide which projects you’re interested in. Because Google Summer of Code has a limited number of spots for students, writing a great project proposal is essential to being selected to the program—be sure to check out the Student Manual for advice.

For ongoing information throughout the application period and beyond, see the Google Open Source blog, join our Summer of Code mailing lists or join us on Internet relay chat at #gsoc on Freenode.

Good luck to all the open source coders out there, and remember to submit your proposals early—you only have until May 3 to apply!

In support of a national STEM Teacher Corps

Last year, while hosting the White House Science Fair, President Obama said, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.” We agree—and we think the best science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers who inspire those young people should be honored and supported as well.

That’s why Google and our partner organizations support a national STEM Teacher Corps to acknowledge the great teachers who help students achieve amazing things in the fields of science and technology. We’re excited that the President has recommended funding for a STEM Teacher Corps in his budget (PDF).

Today we’re co-publishing a white paper (PDF) with Math For America and the Broad Institute that outlines some of the key features of such a corps. We gathered input from more than 80 organizations to make recommendations for a program that will reward teachers and schools with significant stipends, foster a community of teachers empowered to make broad improvements in STEM education, and recognize a larger percentage of teachers than any existing recognition program.

We must do more to retain the best teachers so our students have the opportunity to succeed in these growing fields, and we applaud the many organizations already working to elevate and celebrate the top STEM teachers nationwide. We look forward to continuing to support the development of the STEM Teacher Corps and doing our part to ensure that every student has access to truly great STEM teachers.

Enabling the next generation of computer scientists with CS4HS

For the past four years, Google has sponsored an initiative called Computer Science for High School (CS4HS). The mission of this aptly named collaboration is simple: to bring computer science professional development to educators through hands-on workshops. In collaboration with universities, colleges and technical schools, we have helped K-12 educators bring CS into their classrooms around the world; to date, we have helped train more than 6,000 teachers worldwide—from Canada to China, Germany to New Zealand, our programs reach more and more countries with every iteration.

Today, we are pleased to announce the recipients of the 5th annual CS4HS Google grant. (To see the full list, visit our site.) As our program grows, we are working to engage as many teachers as possible in our CS efforts. To that end, this year we are offering four free MOOC courses for educators who may not be physically close to one of our workshops, but who are eager to learn the basics of computer science. In addition, we are launching our new CS4HS Community page; join the conversation and help shape the next generation of computer scientists!

Doodle 4 Google: A stately competition

Are you a young artist from California? Alabama? Or Indiana (like me!)? Well, get doodling with the topic “My Best Day Ever…” for a chance to see your very own artwork on the Google homepage—and help represent your piece of the union.

Today marks the 30-day countdown to the March 22 submission deadline for the U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition. And in the spirit of friendly competition, we’re inviting you to rally fellow students and teachers in your state to take part in Doodle 4 Google’s 30-day Race to the Finish with an interactive map that shows the top submitting states. States are ranked in order of submissions relative to student population size.

Whether your state tops the submissions race or not, you still have the chance to become the individual state winner. The 50 state winners will win an all-expenses paid trip to New York City in May for the final awards ceremony, where we’ll reveal the winning doodle. The national winner will see his or her doodle on the Google homepage, win a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school. Download an entry form today to get doodling!

Fun fact for those of you who can’t get enough doodles: we run Doodle 4 Google competitions in many countries worldwide, year-round. Vote for your Irish favorites now—the winner will appear on on April 16.

As always, happy doodling!

RISE Awards 2013: A global effort

“I am standing in a partial enclosure made of sticks and plant fronds. This is the school for roughly 35 students, ranging in age from three to about 20 years old. There are no desks. There is only a single shared chalkboard, and it has gaping holes.” — David Rathmann-Bloch from the 21st Century Chalkboard Project, writing from rural Haiti.
These are just some of the many challenges faced by education organizations who applied for this year’s Google RISE Awards. The RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards program funds and supports organizations around the world that provide science and technology education at a grassroots level.

This year we’re delighted to give awards to 30 new organizations from 18 different countries. Combined they will reach more than 90,000 children in 2013, helping inspire and teach the scientists and engineers of the future.

  • Some, such as Haiti’s 21st Century Chalkboard Project and the Uniristii Association (site in Romanian) in Romania, help those from underserved communities gain access to computing resources.
  • Others, like the U.K.’s Code Club and the U.S.’s CodeNow, offer extracurricular activities that help interested children, especially those from underrepresented minority backgrounds, to learn programming.
  • A few, such as the Middle East’s MEET and iLab Liberia, seek to use technology education as a platform to bridge wider social and cultural divides.
  • Some, like Girlstart in the U.S. and New Zealand’s Programming Challenge 4 Girls, aim to empower girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In addition to receiving funding and support to continue their outreach, RISE Award recipients will be brought together for a global summit this June in London.

To paraphrase an old saying, from small seeds, great things can grow. The recipients of the 2013 RISE Awards have already made a difference. Connecting with other like-minded organizations will help spread valuable and practical expertise, and spark opportunities for global collaboration and expansion.

Google Science Fair: Looking for the next generation of scientists and engineers to change the world

At age 16, Louis Braille invented an alphabet for the blind. When she was 13, Ada Lovelace became fascinated with math and went on to write the first computer program. And at 18, Alexander Graham Bell started experimenting with sound and went on to invent the telephone. Throughout history many great scientists developed their curiosity for science at an early age and went on to make groundbreaking discoveries that changed the way we live.

Today, we’re launching the third annual Google Science Fair in partnership with CERN, the LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American to find the next generation of scientists and engineers. We’re inviting students ages 13-18 to participate in the largest online science competition and submit their ideas to change the world.

For the past two years, thousands of students from more than 90 countries have submitted research projects that address some of the most challenging problems we face today. Previous winners tackled issues such as the early diagnosis of breast cancer, improving the experience of listening to music for people with hearing loss and cataloguing the ecosystem found in water. This year we hope to once again inspire scientific exploration among young people and receive even more entries for our third competition.

Here’s some key information for this year’s Science Fair:
  • Students can enter the Science Fair in 13 languages.
  • The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm PDT.
  • In June, we’ll recognize 90 regional finalists (30 from the Americas, 30 from Asia Pacific and 30 from Europe/Middle East/Africa).
  • Judges will then select the top 15 finalists, who will be flown to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. for our live, final event on September 23, 2013.
  • At the finals, a panel of distinguished international judges consisting of renowned scientists and tech innovators will select top winners in each age category (13-14, 15-16, 17-18). One will be selected as the Grand Prize winner.
Prizes for the 2013 Science Fair include a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a trip to the Galapagos with National Geographic Expeditions, experiences at CERN, Google or the LEGO Group and digital access to the Scientific American archives for the winner’s school for a year. Scientific American will also award a $50,000 Science in Action prize to one project that makes a practical difference by addressing a social, environmental or health issue. We’re also introducing two new prizes for 2013:
  • In August, the public will have the opportunity to get to know our 15 finalists through a series of Google+ Hangouts on Air and will then vote for the Voter's Choice Award—an award selected by the public for the project with the greatest potential to change the world.
  • We also recognize that behind every great student there’s often a great teacher and a supportive school, so this year we’ll award a $10,000 cash grant from Google and an exclusive Google+ Hangout with CERN to the Grand Prize winner’s school.
Lastly, we’ll also be hosting a series of Google+ Hangouts on Air. Taking place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, these Hangouts will feature renowned scientists including inventor Dean Kamen and oceanographic explorer Fabien Cousteau, showcase exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of cutting-edge labs and science facilities, and provide access to judges and the Google Science Fair team. We hope these Google+ Hangouts will help inspire, mentor and support students throughout the competition and beyond.

Visit to get started now—your idea might just change the world.

Update July 30: Updated the name of the Voter's Choice Award (previously the Inspired Idea Award).

Chromebooks for classrooms: $99 for the holidays

For many students and teachers, the hassles of traditional computing often prevent them from making the most of technology in the classroom. Schools that have adopted Chromebooks, however, have been able to bring the web’s vast educational resources—whether it’s conducting real-time research or collaborating on group projects—right into the classroom. Chromebooks are fast, easily sharable, and require almost no maintenance. Today more than 1,000 schools have adopted Chromebooks in classrooms, including some school districts like Richland School District Two (S.C.), Leyden High School District (Ill.), and Council Bluffs Community School District (Iowa) who have deployed Chromebooks to tens of thousands of students.

To help budget-strapped classrooms across the country, we’re working with, an online charity that connects donors directly to public school classroom needs. For the holiday season, teachers can request the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook—the most widely deployed Chromebook in schools—at a special, discounted price of $99 including hardware, management and support.

If you’re a full-time public school teacher in the U.S., visit and follow the instructions to take advantage of this opportunity by December 21, 2012. Your request will be posted on where anyone can make a donation to support your classroom. When you reach your funding goal, you’ll receive your Chromebooks from Lakeshore Learning,’s exclusive fulfillment partner for this program.

If you’re not a teacher, please share this opportunity with the teachers who have made a difference in your life! Or if you’re interested in supporting a classroom directly, read through the list of Chromebook projects and donate what you can. Be sure to check back often for new projects.

Thank you for your support in giving the gift of hassle-free technology to teachers and students. Working together, we can ensure “The virus ate my homework” is never uttered in a classroom again, and we can help classrooms get off to a strong start in the New Year!

Happy holidays.

Update Dec 11: We’ve seen a tremendous response—thanks to all the teachers who have applied so far! Please check for the latest status of the program.

Help train the next generation of computer scientists with a CS4HS grant from Google

It’s that time of year: school is in full swing, the holidays are just around the corner, and we’re once again accepting proposals for our Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) grants. CS4HS is a “train the trainer” program that aims to give teachers the tools they need in order to bring computer science and computational thinking into the classroom.

With a grant from Google, university, college and technical college faculty develop these three to five day workshops—hands-on, interactive opportunities for K-12 teachers to learn how to teach CS to their students. Some programs are geared toward CS teachers, while others are for non-CS teachers who want to incorporate computer science into their curriculum. No two programs are exactly alike, and it is the creative and passionate material that organizers develop which makes this program so unique—and successful.

2013 marks the fifth consecutive year for our CS4HS program, and we’ve grown significantly. Hundreds of students and thousands of teachers have been through these workshops to date, and our program has spread to include places in Africa, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the U.S. Our alumni are connected to each other, other educators and organizers through our teacher’s forum, which also enables K-12 teachers interested in CS education to join the discussion and ask questions.

We’re accepting applications on our website from now until February 16, 2013. To qualify, you must work for an accredited university, college or technical school in one of the qualifying regions. Each region has a slightly different application process, so make sure to read up on your area at

If you’re not a university faculty member, but still want to be involved, reach out to a local area university and encourage the CS Chairperson to apply; peruse information on our K-12 educators page to start bringing CS into your classroom; and check for updates on our website starting in March to find a program near you.

We’re excited to help even more educators learn how to bring computer science to their students, whether they’re teaching CS, math, history, or any other subject. Together, we can start the next generation of CS professionals on their way.

Celebrating teachers who make a difference with Google

For most of us, there’s at least one teacher whose name we will never forget—that favorite teacher who made a difference in our education, whether they were our first grade art teacher or a professor in college. For me, that teacher was Ms. Taylor, my 8th grade science teacher. Ms. Taylor didn't just foster my love of science—she understood that 8th grade can be a tough time for students as they try to navigate social cliques and prepare for the pressure of high school. Ms. Taylor knew that taking the time to ask us if we were feeling okay was just as important as teaching us about geological formations. She didn’t just care about teaching us—she genuinely cared about us as people.

This Friday is World Teachers' Day, and we want to honor the teachers like Ms. Taylor who helped make us the people we are today. We’ve long supported education through technology, offering free tools like YouTube Edu and Google Apps for Education, and by developing cost-efficient devices like Chromebooks. But it’s the teachers who really make the difference by creatively incorporating that technology into their classrooms. As technology usage in schools increases, we hear even more amazing stories about how teachers and students are using our products to foster collaborative learning.

And that usage is growing quickly. As of today, more than 20 million students, faculty and staff worldwide use Google Apps for Education. In addition, in the last year we announced that:
  • 400+ universities are posting lectures and/or full courses online using YouTube Edu
  • 600,000 staff from the Philippines Department of Education will now be using Google Apps
  • Universities across the continents are signing up for Apps, including schools in Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and Africa
  • More than 500 schools and districts went back to school with Chromebooks this fall
  • Seven of the eight Ivy League universities and 72 of this year’s top 100 U.S. universities (as determined by 2013 U.S. News and World Report’s ranking) have gone Google with Google Apps for Education
As a tribute to the educators who are putting these tools to work, this week we’ll be highlighting a few amazing teachers on our Google in Education page on Google+. To kick off the series, we want to celebrate Ms. Kornowski—a science teacher at Kettle-Moraine High School in Wales, WI, who is using Google Forms to bring her students together.

To all the Ms. Taylors and Ms. Kornowskis out there—thank you, both for the positive impact you have on your students and for letting Google be a part of that experience.

Our roots go global: Apply for a RISE Award today

The application for the 2013 Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards is now open. Given once a year, Google RISE Awards are designed to promote and support education initiatives in two key areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and Computer Science (CS). Google grants awards of $5,000 - $25,000 USD to organizations around the world working with K-12 and university students in these fields.

This year, our community welcomed more than two dozen organizations from around the world, from Denmark to Uganda and California to Romania. The RISE grants have helped these groups to scale their reach by allowing for more scholarship recipients, to deepen their impact by providing hands on robotics kits, and to ultimately inspire their students by creating a community for CS outreach.

Now, the RISE Awards have expanded to include applicants from Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, bringing our total to six continents and 243 countries. All eligible nations are listed on our website.

The growth of technology is undoubtable, and the impact technology will have on our future is equally undeniable. We believe it’s our duty to support students who have the uncanny ability not only to consume technology, but also to create it. We believe that inspiring the next generation of computer scientists will enrich the lives of not only individual students, but also the communities and countries they live in.

Show us what you can do to get students excited about STEM and CS! Submit your application by September 30, 2012. Awardees will be announced by January 2013.

The winners of the 2012 Google Science Fair

Twenty-one of the world’s brightest young scientists gathered at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View today to celebrate their achievements and present their projects to a panel of renowned judges at the Google Science Fair finals.

Chosen from thousands of projects from more than 100 countries, these top 15 projects impressed the judges and public with their breadth of topics: from cancer research to vertical farming, 3D electronics to dementia. It was a tough decision, but we’re proud to name these three projects the winners of this year’s Google Science Fair:
  • 13-14 age category: Jonah Kohn (USA)—“Good Vibrations: Improving the Music Experience for People with Hearing Loss Using Multi-Frequency Tactile Sound.” By creating a device that converts sound into tactile vibrations, Jonah’s project attempts to provide the hearing impaired with an improved experience of music.
  • 15-16 age category: Iván Hervías Rodríguez, Marcos Ochoa and Sergio Pascual (Spain)—“La Vida Oculta del Agua (The Secret Life of Water).” Iván, Marcos and Sergio studied hidden microscopic life in fresh water, documenting the organisms that exist in a drop of water, and how those organisms influence our environment.
  • 17-18 age category AND Grand Prize Winner: Brittany Wenger (USA)—“Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.” Brittany’s project harnesses the power of the cloud to help doctors accurately diagnose breast cancer. Brittany built an application that compares individual test results to an extensive dataset stored in the cloud, allowing doctors to assess tumors using a minimally-invasive procedure.

Each of the winners will receive prizes from Google and our Science Fair partners: CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and Scientific American. This evening, we also recognized Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela, from Swaziland, the winners of the Scientific American Science in Action award.

The judges were impressed with the quality of all the projects this year—and by the ingenuity, dedication and passion of the young scientists who created them. We applaud every contestant who submitted a project to the 2012 Google Science Fair and look forward to seeing the innovations, inventions and discoveries of young scientists in the years to come.

Our unique approach to research

Google started as a research project—and research has remained a core part of our culture. But we also do research differently than many other places. To shed more light on Google’s unique approach to research, Peter Norvig (Director of Research), Slav Petrov (Senior Research Scientist) and I recently published a paper, “Google’s Hybrid Approach to Research,” in the July issue of Communications of the ACM.

In the paper, we describe our hybrid approach to research, which integrates research and development to maximize our impact on users and the speed at which we make progress. Our model allows us to work at unparalleled scale and conduct research in vivo on real systems with millions of users, rather than on artificial prototypes. This yields not only innovative research results and new technologies, but valuable new capabilities for the company—think of MapReduce, Voice Search or open source projects such as Android and Chrome.

Breaking up long-term research projects into shorter-term, measurable components is another aspect of our integrated model. This is not to say our model precludes longer-term objectives, but we try to achieve these in stages. For example, Google Translate is a multi-year project characterized by the need for both research and complex systems, but we’ve achieved many small objectives along the way—such as adding languages over time for a current total of 64, developing features like two-step translation functionality, enabling users to make corrections, and consideration of syntactic structure.

Overall, our success in the areas of systems, speech recognition, language translation, machine learning, market algorithms, computer vision and many other areas has stemmed from our hybrid research approach. While there are risks associated with the close integration of research and development activities—namely the concern that research will take a back seat in favor of shorter-term projects—we mitigate those by focusing on the user and empirical data, maintaining a flexible organizational structure, and engaging with the academic community. We have a portfolio of timescales, with some researchers working with engineers to rapidly iterate on existing products, and others working on forward-looking projects that will benefit people in the future.

We hope “Google’s Hybrid Approach to Research” helps explain our method. We feel it will bring some clarification and transparency to our approach, and perhaps merit consideration by other technology companies and academic labs that organize research differently.

To learn more about what we do and see see real-time applications of our hybrid research model, add Research at Google to your circles on Google+.

Posted by Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives

Using large-scale brain simulations for machine learning and A.I.

You probably use machine learning technology dozens of times a day without knowing it—it’s a way of training computers on real-world data, and it enables high-quality speech recognition, practical computer vision, email spam blocking and even self-driving cars. But it’s far from perfect—you’ve probably chuckled at poorly transcribed text, a bad translation or a misidentified image. We believe machine learning could be far more accurate, and that smarter computers could make everyday tasks much easier. So our research team has been working on some new approaches to large-scale machine learning.

Today’s machine learning technology takes significant work to adapt to new uses. For example, say we’re trying to build a system that can distinguish between pictures of cars and motorcycles. In the standard machine learning approach, we first have to collect tens of thousands of pictures that have already been labeled as “car” or “motorcycle”—what we call labeled data—to train the system. But labeling takes a lot of work, and there’s comparatively little labeled data out there.

Fortunately, recent research on self-taught learning (PDF) and deep learning suggests we might be able to rely instead on unlabeled data—such as random images fetched off the web or out of YouTube videos. These algorithms work by building artificial neural networks, which loosely simulate neuronal (i.e., the brain’s) learning processes.

Neural networks are very computationally costly, so to date, most networks used in machine learning have used only 1 to 10 million connections. But we suspected that by training much larger networks, we might achieve significantly better accuracy. So we developed a distributed computing infrastructure for training large-scale neural networks. Then, we took an artificial neural network and spread the computation across 16,000 of our CPU cores (in our data centers), and trained models with more than 1 billion connections.

We then ran experiments that asked, informally: If we think of our neural network as simulating a very small-scale “newborn brain,” and show it YouTube video for a week, what will it learn? Our hypothesis was that it would learn to recognize common objects in those videos. Indeed, to our amusement, one of our artificial neurons learned to respond strongly to pictures of... cats. Remember that this network had never been told what a cat was, nor was it given even a single image labeled as a cat. Instead, it “discovered” what a cat looked like by itself from only unlabeled YouTube stills. That’s what we mean by self-taught learning.

One of the neurons in the artificial neural network, trained from still frames from unlabeled YouTube videos, learned to detect cats.

Using this large-scale neural network, we also significantly improved the state of the art on a standard image classification test—in fact, we saw a 70 percent relative improvement in accuracy. We achieved that by taking advantage of the vast amounts of unlabeled data available on the web, and using it to augment a much more limited set of labeled data. This is something we’re really focused on—how to develop machine learning systems that scale well, so that we can take advantage of vast sets of unlabeled training data.

We’re reporting on these experiments, led by Quoc Le, at ICML this week. You can get more details in our Google+ post or read the full paper (PDF).

We’re actively working on scaling our systems to train even larger models. To give you a sense of what we mean by “larger”—while there’s no accepted way to compare artificial neural networks to biological brains, as a very rough comparison an adult human brain has around 100 trillion connections. So we still have lots of room to grow.

And this isn’t just about images—we’re actively working with other groups within Google on applying this artificial neural network approach to other areas such as speech recognition and natural language modeling. Someday this could make the tools you use every day work better, faster and smarter.