Google Asks: What's Your Question?
A Global Science Success
With over 10,000 student entries from around the world, Google's inaugural 2011 Science Fair was a resounding success. Students in 91 countries uploaded their science projects to take part in the virtual science fair. The top fifteen entries were then showcased at a live science fair at Google's California-based headquarters. In the end, there were three top winners, all young women, all who had questions and turned to science to attempt to find answers.
A Single Question Sparks a Winner's Research
According to Lauren (top-right video), a 2011 Google Science Fair winner for her research into marinades as a strategy for lowering the carcinogens in grilled chicken, her science project came to her, in part, because of a family dinner. Having recently read a magazine article about public and legal outcry over the carcinogens found in grilled chicken, an alternative many restaurants and fast food establishments offer as a low-fat or "healthier" alternative to popular fried variations, Lauren's curiosity flared when she noticed her mother using lemon juice as a marinade. In her Google Science Fair entry, Lauren recalls: "One summer afternoon, my mother was preparing our dinner: marinated chicken. One of the ingredients was lemon juice. I observed that the edges of the chicken had turned white. The explanation came later during biology class, when I learned about proteins denaturing from acids. I then wondered if this denaturing process could interrupt the formation of HCA's."
For Lauren, a combination of a real-world science news story, coupled with a home-cooked meal, left her with a question, a starting point, and a scientific journey that took her all the way to Google's winner's circle!
"It was like everyday life presented me with a problem, and now I needed to solve it," said Lauren.
According to Lauren's findings, reducing the risk inherent in the grilling of chicken—a risk that increases depending on how long the chicken is cooked—may be as simple as a marinade. What goes into that marinade, and what ingredients may inhibit the production of carcinogens that form during grilling—was at the heart of Lauren's Google science fair project. Her findings, based on her testing of a small number of possible marinade ingredients, suggest a need for further research on the effectiveness of brown sugar, salt water, and lemon juice as core ingredients for pre-soaking chicken. As her project (and her results) show, what is popularly thought to be the most healthy approach to cooking or ingredient selection... might not be!
2012 Google Science Fair
Celebrating the importance of asking questions, of being curious about how things work and what may be possible, this year's Google Science Fair is underway. The videos above showcase three students, including Lauren, and the kinds of questions they asked last year. What is your question? And where might finding an answer take you?
Students age 13-18 are eligible to submit a science project either individually or as a team. The Google Science Fair site is full of information designed to help students prepare and enter the competition. Project Submissions involve a series of 11 components and either a 2-minute YouTube video or a 20-slide Google Presentation. For a full run-down of the steps, visit: www.google.com/sciencefair.
To assist students as they work through the individual steps in preparing a Project Submission, Google has partnered with Science Buddies. Students can link through to information from the Science Buddies Project Guide for more information about many of the steps required for a student's Project Submission. Students are also encouraged to review both the steps of the Scientific Method and the Engineering Design Process.
The deadline for submissions for the 2012 Google Science Fair is April 1, 2012.