One ball rolling down a funnel triggering other events ending with a big laser canon starting a rover that rolled on a track, puncturing balloons and ending with pulling a drape that unveiled the logo of the first global online science contest, the Google Science Fair – this is how Tesca Fitzgerald from Portland, Oregon triggered the experiment that kicked off the first global online contest at Google’s New York offices on Tuesday January the 11th.
The Google Science Fair invites young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today. The contest is open to young people aged 13 to 18 who can sign up, working on their own or in a team of two or three.
Projects can be submitted in various categories like Earth & Environment, Energy & Space, Social and Behavioural Sciences and other scientific categories. Read and learn more about the competition here: The Google Science Fair Website and Google Science Fair Youtube Channel
The event in New York hosted over 200 invited guests, among them educators and students, FLL teams and journalists. Five persons were invited to give inspirational presentations about their own explorations and adventures with scientific projects. Introductions to the presentations were made by Mariette DiChristina, chief editor from Scientific American, followed by Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, also renowned as the ‘father of the Internet’, talking about how the Internet was started and where it will go in the future. He mentioned working on a project to expand the Internet to go beyond Earth and make probes in the Solar System more efficient by being inter-linked to cut down communication time in Space.
William Kamkwamba from Malawi told the story of how he wanted to help his family, who as farmers experienced famine and drought, encouraging William to learn about mechanical engineering from self-study, making his own windmill from old car and bicycle parts, giving his village its own electricity and through other innovative projects a solar-powered pump and an irrigation system . William is now a student at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA.
Spencer Wells, award-winning geneticist from National Geographic came on to tell about the Genographic Project, in which he works in an innovative way to trace ancestry of the human race by collecting DNA samples from all over the world.
To inspire other young people across the globe, Tesca Fitzgerald presented her award-winning project she has been working on for years; creating an intelligent robot that can navigate on its own in a hospital environment. Tesca’s objective is to make hospitals more efficient using artificial intelligence (AI) in autonomous robots — a world-changing goal, to be sure – and have used the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT platform for prototyping her concept.
Asked in the panel about what her passion is, Tesca answered:
"My passion is to find problems and finding solutions to them, and to inspire others to look deeper into CS, not just to look at the end results. And also to get them thinking about how things work.
Tesca is part of the FIRST LEGO League team Flaming Rubber Duckies from Portland, Oregon together with her two sisters, coached by parents Mark and Amy Fitzgerald."
Read more about Tesca and her award winning project, which now also serves as the Google Science Fair sample project.
Present at the launch of the Google Science Fair were also FIRST LEGO League Team Landroids from Livingston, New Jersey, showing off their project that won the first prize in the Moonbots competition last year. Thanks goes to John and Pearl for bringing Brian, Karlin, Gage, Stan and Vijay with them as well as Brian’s dad Po-shing and Gage’s mom Leslie.
Students Matt, Jasen, Ava and Jack from the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York who all displayed some of their LEGO MINDSTORMS models and inventions together with teacher Maureen Reilly and Headmaster Bruce Dennis. We were very proud to have all these bright young people present their passion for robotics and LEGO MINDSTORMS in this great setting!. Our thanks also goes to Elizabeth Rossi and Debbie Tyksinski from the Institute of Technology at the State University New York for coming, supported with an NXT robot from FLL team New Hartford RoboSpartans, as well as Brick Journal’s ever-vigilant editor Joe Meno.
We are proud that all these young people helped the LEGO Group and the LEGO MINDSTORMS team kick-off this competition, that will help make today’s young scientists the rock stars of tomorrow
Play and Invent well!
The LEGO MINDSTORMS team