Meet this year’s Google Global Science Fair winners:
- Lauren, 13, studied the effect of marinades on the level of carcinogens in grilled chicken. (Google n. pag.)
- Naomi, 16, proposed that making changes to indoor environments to improve indoor air quality can reduce people’s reliance on asthma medications. (Google n. pag.)
- Shree, 17, discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients who have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs. (Google n. pag.)
Listen and watch as they share their thinking and learning at TEDxWomen:
The idea that sticks with me comes from both Lauren and Shree. Lauren said she emailed approximately 2oo different people for space to work to work in a lab, and she got 1 positive response, 1. Shree says she emailed all the professors in her area asking to work under their supervision in a lab and got rejected by all but 1 professor.
It makes me wonder about PBL in school. How often do I fall in the 1 positive response category? Can we mobilize teams of learners to do meaningful project work? Work and learning driven by the questions, passions, and interests of the learners? Will our disciplines serve their projects? How can we configure time to accommodate rich meaningful project work?
Check out the photos posted on the Google Science Fair Facebook page. Talk about presenting to an authentic audience, wow! Look at the panel of judges. The list includes Nobel Laureates, scientists, and technology visionaries. Notice the technology at each station; these presentations are dynamic and interactive without trifold display boards.
We should also celebrate the 15 finalists from Mississippi, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Calgary, Singapore, Texas, Chennai, Cape Town, and New Jersey.
From Top 15 finalists from Google’s international Science Fair by Rachel King published by ZDNet:
- D. Arnold, 14 from San Diego, has been working on a new type of model for train tracks. According to his experiment, using the modified spring switch track (which incorporates an extra spring from the existing model already used worldwide today) would prevent train derailments almost entirely. (King caption 1)
- V. Shiv, 17 from Portland, Ore., developed a platform that automatically analyzes music and can idenfity the instrument and individual notes. This technology, he says, could also be used for other sounds to extract information. (King caption 2)
- G. Ovsak, 17 from Hopkins, Minn., developed a new style of water turbines that can be fully submersed and put to use to generate electricity (even in homes) using access to local bodies of water (i.e. river or ocean tidal currants). (King caption 3)
- M. Morris, 18 from San Diego, designed a new sailboat structure using gravity and based on a hydrodynamic keel to keep the boat more balanced when traveling upwind and downwind. (King caption 4)
- S. Koppula, 16 from Pittsburgh, has formulated a project based on two algorithms that are designed to better collect marine data (depth, in particular) for exploring and navigating large bodies of water. (King caption 5)
- N. Shah, 16 from Portland, Ore., has been researching the relationship between everyday toxins not included in the Clean Air Act with asthma patients. (King caption 6)
- C. Nielsen, 18 from Calgary, Alberta, is taking GPS another step further by implementing steroscopic cameras into robots charged with navigation. His results have produced accuracy in direction and navigation down to millimeters. (King caption 7)
- L. Hodge, 14 from York, Pa., might have something very valuable in store for Burger King, McDonalds and any other fast food chain with grilled chicken sandwiches. Basically, Hodge tested five different sauces with the intention of finding one that could reduce the number of carcinogens in grilled chicken when marinated first. (King caption 8)
- S. Lim, 18 from Singapore, has discovered that sunflowers can actually kill. But perhaps that lethal power can be put to use. Shaun’s study has found that increased UV levels stimulate the production of these chemicals that can harm some plants (i.e morning glory) while actually increasing the growth of other organisms nearby. Thus, there is the possibility that these chemicals could prove more useful than natural herbicides in certain situations. (King caption 9)
- A. Srinivasan, 15 from Atlanta, has built a prototype that uses the application of EEG technology towards prosethetic devices. For example, Anand used the prototype, which was strapped to his head, to tell the mechanical arm he built to high-five himself. It worked. Anand says that this technology could be put to use for amputees and patients suffering from paralysis and muscular dystrophy. (King caption 10)
- S. Bose, 17 from Fort Worth, Texas, has been studying drug resistance in ovarian cancer cells for two years. Her research has found that the AMPK, an activated protein enzyme, causes resistance to cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug used to treat the cancer. However, when controlled, the enzyme has the power to build resistance to the cancer, which could have profound affects on future ovarian cancer treatments. (King caption 11)
- H. Ravichandran, 16 from Chennai, India, has found from her experiments on power line conditioning that multi-level inverters can overcome power shortages when connected to a single phase circuit. (King caption 12)
- L. Taylor, 15 from Cape Town, South Africa, has developed a platform that translates English into computer code, which in turn directs a prototype robot that receives the translation and conducts the corresponding action. For example, tell the robot to move forward and backwards, and it will do it. It can also do more complicated tasks like pouring a glass of water. Luke suggests that these robots could be used in hospitals in South Africa, particularly in remote areas, where there are less staff to treat patients. (King caption 13)
- M. Guo, 15 from Bergen County, N.J., has been studying how insulin sensitizers affects the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In particular, Guo has been looking at cinnamon, which she has found caused untreated cells to produce twice the amount of β-amyloid, a plaque found in the brains of these patients. (King caption 14)
And from Matson, John’s article Down to the Final 15 at the First-Ever Google Science Fair published by Scientific American:
- D. Chen, 15 from Oxford, Miss., designed a memory-aid system for people with dementia, which would record interactions with others and attempt to isolate important pieces of those interactions using facial recognition and auditory cues. (Matson. n. pag.)
We are in the positive response category in several ways. Bo Adams (It’s About Learning) and I co-facilitate Synergy, a non-departmentalized, non-graded, transdisciplinary, community-issues-problem-solving course for 8th graders. Our 8th grade advisement program, LEAP (Leadership Experience Advisement Program) engages in a year-long experience to take on a global issue or social-justice concern with a locally enacted project.
We would love it if you would share your positive response actions to help us add to our toolkit of ideas, strategies, and actions.
Google. “Hats off to the winners of the inaugural Google Science Fair.” The Official Google Blog. 12 Jul. 2011. Web. 11 Jan. 2012
King, Rachel. “Top 15 finalists from Google’s international Science Fair.” ZDNet. CBS Interactive. 11 Jul. 2011. Web. 11 Jan. 2012.
Matson, John. “Down to the Final 15 at the First-Ever Google Science Fair.” Scientific American. 11 Jul. 11. Web. 11 Jan. 2012.