The 2014 Google Science Fair is now open for entries from 13- to 18-year-old students around the world who have great ideas for incredible science projects, and this year's contest offers some great new prizes for the winners.
The call for entries for this year's fourth annual event was unveiled by Clare Conway of the Google Science Fair team in a Feb. 12 post on the Google Official Blog.
"What if you could turn one of your passions into something that could change the world?" wrote Conway in her post. "That's just what thousands of teens have done since the first Google Science Fair in 2011. These students have tackled some of today's greatest challenges, like an anti-flu medicine, more effective ways to beat cancer, an exoskeletal glove, a battery-free flashlight, banana bioplastics and more efficient ways of farming."
This year's competition, which is being conducted in partnership with Virgin Galactic, Scientific American, LEGO Education and National Geographic, is now accepting entries through May 22, and the winners will be announced at a finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 22.
The grand prize winner of this year's Google Science Fair will join the Virgin Galactic team at Spaceport America in New Mexico as the crew prepares for a space flight, and then the winner will be among the first to welcome the astronauts back to Earth after that space voyage, wrote Conway. The winner will also receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic "Endeavour" and a full year's digital access to Scientific American magazine for his or her school.
Other winners by age category will have a choice between going behind the scenes at the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark, or spending time at either a Google office or at National Geographic's offices, wrote Conway.
Several new awards are also being added to the competition this year.
The Computer Science Award will be given to a project that champions innovation and excellence in the field of computer science, while local award winners whose projects address issues facing their communities will be honored in select locations, according to Google.
Also up for grabs is the annual Scientific American Science In Action award that will honor a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge, according to Google. The winner of that prize will receive a year's mentoring from Scientific American and a $50,000 grant toward their project.
"Stay updated throughout the competition on our Google+ page, get inspired by participating in virtual field trips and ask esteemed scientists questions in our Hangout on Air series," wrote Conway. "If you need help jump-starting your project, try out the Idea Springboard for inspiration."
In the 2013 Google Science Fair, three students, one each from the United States, Canada and Australia, were selected as winners from thousands of entries that came in from more than 120 nations, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The top 15 projects in 2013 included a multi-step system created for early diagnosis of melanoma cancers to the invention of a metallic exoskeleton glove that assisted, supported and enhanced the movement of the human palm to help people who suffer from upper-hand disabilities.
In the 13- to 14-year-old age group in 2013,Viney Kumar of Australia was named the winner for his project, called "The PART (Police and Ambulances Regulating Traffic) Program," while in the 15- to 16-year-old age group, Ann Makosinski of Canada won for her "Hollow Flashlight" project. "
In the 17- to 18-year-old age category, Eric Chen of the U.S. won for his project, a "Computer-Aided Discovery of Novel Influenza Endonuclease Inhibitors to Combat Flu Pandemic," which was also selected as the competition's grand-prize winner.
Another student participant, Elif Bilgin, of Istanbul, Turkey, was named as the winner of the competition's Scientific American Science in Action Award and of the Voter's Choice award with her project creating plastic from banana peels.