Google Science Fair


Every year, Google sponsors a science competition for young people around the world. Anne Muir and Joshua Leo look at the great ideas coming from teenagers.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Anne Muir.

Voice 2 

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A girl pulls the outer skin, or peel, from a fruit. It is a long yellow banana. She adds the banana peel to a chemical. Then she boils it and mixes it up. The girl adds some more chemicals and other substances. Then she puts the mixture into a pan. She bakes it in a hot oven until it is hard. This is Elif Bilgen from Turkey. She is 16 years old. And she is making banana peels into plastic.

Voice 2 

Bilgen worked to produce plastic without creating waste and pollution. Her efforts had a good result. Bilgen’s banana peel plastic won an award from Scientific American magazine. The prize for earning this award was 50,000 US dollars. Now Bilgen’s banana peel plastic is also in another competition. She is one of hundreds of competitors in the Google Science Fair. This worldwide competition is for young people who love science. They want to use science to make the world a better place. Today’s Spotlight is on the Google Science Fair.

Voice 3 

"Science fairs help students to explore their dreams and interests through science. Our company was established on an experiment. We firmly believe that science can change the world."

Voice 1

These are the words of Tom Oliveri. He is the Director of Product Marketing for the computer software company Google. Google noticed that there are many young people who like science. Teenagers often think about the world in a different way than adults do.  They have lots of new ideas. Google wanted to encourage these teenagers. Google also wanted to use these good ideas to help the world. So in 2011 they created the Google Science Fair.

Voice 2 

The Google Science Fair is an online competition. It is for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18. To enter, a teenager must have an idea for a science experiment. She says what she thinks will happen in the experiment. Then the teenager performs the experiment. Finally, she writes about her results in a report. She publishes all of this on a special Google website.

Voice 1 

Teenagers publish their ideas and experience on the Google Science Fair website. And they learn from each other by reading each others’ ideas. Anyone can go to the Google Science Fair website. There they can see the experiments in this year’s competition. People can also learn from the projects from past years.

Voice 2 

One of the finalists in 2012 was Sakhiwe Shongwe from Swaziland. He was 14 years old at the time. He explained in a Google Science Fair video:

Voice 4 

“I am interested in getting knowledge and understanding how things work. If you have knowledge, you can have more influence on the things around you. I see the Google Science Fair as a step to prove to the community that even someone as young as me can make a difference.”

Voice 1 

Shongwe worked with his friend Bonkhe Mahlalela to make a difference in their community. They saw that in Swaziland people were not able to grow enough food. The soil was not fertile. The weather was often very dry. So Shongwe and Mahlalela discovered a way to grow vegetables with very little soil. They created a liquid made from chicken waste. The liquid acted as a fertilizer to help plants grow. People could use this liquid to grow more food.

Voice 2 

Another Google Science Fair Finalist was Harine Ravichandran. She is from India and was 16 years old during the competition. Ravichandran saw that her grandparents’ village did not have regular electrical power. So she designed a regulator for her grandparents’ village. This machine stores electricity. With the regulator, the village could have electricity all day long. Ravichandran says in a video:

Voice 5 

“I love science because it gives answers to most of my questions. I have always wondered about how things around me work and why they work in a particular way. I am convinced that the solutions to a more stable sustainable future are simple and within our grasp. What is missing is not the intelligence but the intent – the desire to change things.”

Voice 1 

The Google Science Fair was established because of a love of science. But it is also a competition.  A team of expert scientists judge all the experiments. The judges choose 15 projects. These are the finalists in the competition. Then, the public votes online for their favourite science project. This gets even more young people involved in science. Finally, all the finalists come together for a celebration. A group of famous science and technology experts choose a winner.

Voice 2 

The winners receive many prizes. The top prize is a trip to the Galapagos Islands. All the finalists win scholarship money to study more about science. They also win an internship - a chance to work and learn at a company that uses science and technology. But the main point of the Google Science Fair is not to win awards. Finalist Elif Bilgen tells Scientific American magazine:

Voice 6 

“For me, winning means that my project has the possibility to be a solution. It is a solution to the increasing pollution problems caused by oil-based plastic. It also means that I have started the process of changing the world. That makes me feel like a winner already.”

Voice 1 

The teenagers look at very important problems. They also find very good solutions! Plastic from bananas. Electricity that people can depend on - even far away from cities. A way to grow more food in poor soil. The Google Science Fair is an example of how young people can help improve the world. Catherine Wong from the USA is a Google Science Fair finalist. She helped make a video about the Google Science Fair. In it she explains why the competition will continue to be exciting:

Voice 7

“This is where the cool things are happening. Science is a field where you do not just predict the future. You can come up with the test ideas that might just be the future. We can find things out. We can discover things. We can build things and we can make a difference.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Google Science Fair.’

Voice 1 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Have you ever competed in a science fair?

Comments


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karlmichael
said on December 08, 2014

The first time that I listen this program. I thing it is very interesting to learn and practice English lenguaje this way and listen news on current issues. I hope continuing attending this programs and share experiences with other people.

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nguyenthuy
said on December 09, 2014

i love this program . i find out many topics I like and it also helps me learn english and has much good information . I love science , too. I think the science was changed the world rapidly . The science was explained most of my curious about life . Someday , i may enter the Google scence Fair :) i hope !

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Jimmy Roberto Espinoza Mercado
said on December 09, 2014

Technology is developed increasingly due to the creative employment of the knowledge of the science and this fact has improved the performance of the people in all their activities by making our lives more comfortable through the innovation or invention. Over time, and by mean of advances of the science, has been found solution for many situations that were impossible to solve in the past, such as: diseases and cases of crime. Therefore I think that the involvement of the young people in all fields of the science is very important for living and facing better the future. This competition is an excellent mean for it. Thank you!

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Isabel
said on December 09, 2014

Hi, congratulation for all people that make a better world with your good ideas.

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tukiet
said on December 09, 2014

Wow! The website’s interface changed. It’s also beautiful! I hope that website “spotlightenglish.com” will develope, brings knowledge to people in around the world.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on December 10, 2014

It is a good idea to encourage teenager to discovery science which is so interesting and can answer most of our question.

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thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on January 20, 2015

In nowaday developing age,there are many competitions to find out young talent for many field such as music,art,technology,science…Finding out future young scientist is necessary to improve anddevelop country .This is great topic.Thanks for spotlight!

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Giant
said on February 16, 2016

Thank you !
How I wish that there should be a similar disease, for adults who have missed the opportunity, I think there are a lot of them.

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Honneur
said on May 13, 2018

Science can give us all answers to all questions we have about life. The only answer science don’t can give is about the death.

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kenhieuloilam
said on January 31, 2019

We live in humanity’s family. We are one. We make life beautiful. We contribute to make life beautiful. Problems need solving. Science problems need solving. Society problems need solving. The world’s problems need solving. We live in humanity’s family. We are one. We develop civilization of love and culture of life. We make life beautiful.