Calling all kids

Google seeking submissions for Science Fair

ALPENA — If you are between the ages of 13 and 18, and you think you have a good idea in the field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), Google is looking for you.

Submissions for the Google Science Fair opened on Thursday and are calling for students or collaborative groups to submit ideas in the fields of STEM.

Google is asking students to consider a problem that needs a solution, regardless of how big or small the problem may be, then to think of potential solutions. When students find a good idea that may solve the problem, Google wants them to test it out and share the results in the Google Science Fair.

Alpena High School 11th-grader Garrett Roulea said it’s a great idea. He said science fairs feature some highly interesting ideas, and he thinks this could be beneficial to students.

The site offers resources for students as they work on their ideas, and inspiration if they get stuck anywhere in the problem-solving process. Students can find helpful hints on how to submit projects.

Students can read the stories of other submitted ideas to see how peers took on the challenges they faced in their work, like Elif Bilgin from Istanbul, who conducted experiments to see if bananas could be used to make plastic in order to create a biodegradable type of plastic. Her story details the 12 tests she ran, with 10 resulting in failures, and how she persevered.

There is also a library of materials for educators to help inspire and encourage kids.

Once an idea is submitted, a panel of 11 judges reviews the submissions and casts their votes based on five criteria. They will look at the inspiration of the entry, its ability to make an impact, how passionate the student or group is about the idea, the method of testing, and the ability to clearly present the idea. The judges come from all walks of life.

For the winners, there are more than 170 prizes. Some of the prizes include educational scholarships, a $15,000 scholarship to take an expedition to explore the world, a $5,000 gift card from LEGO education for educational products, a trip to Google Headquarters, a Chromebook, and a variety of prizes to encourage kids come up with their best ideas.

Bob Thomson, a teacher at Ella White Elementary School, is known for his creative approach to inspiring kids and approaching real-world problems, including microplastics in the Great Lakes. His students have won both state and national competitions in stewardship, and while his students are not old enough to submit ideas for Google, he said contests such as the Google Science Fair can be valuable learning lessons.

“I think it is a great opportunity for students to work on a project that they are passionate about and share it with the world,” Thomson said via email. “You really don’t know what you are capable of until you try.”

Kaitlin Ryan can be reached at kryan@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 989-358-5693.