Ministry seeks out future scientists for Google fair

Israeli teens invited by the Science and Technology Ministry to take part in the world’s “largest online science fair.

January 16, 2012 06:09
2 minute read.
2011 Google Science Fair winners

2011 Google Science Fair winners 311. (photo credit: Courtesy Google Science Fair)

Are you, your children or grandchildren jealous of the Technion’s Dan Shechtman, who recently returned from Sweden with a Nobel Prize for chemistry? Now, Israeli teens have been invited by the Science and Technology Ministry to take part in the world’s “largest online science fair,” with Israeli Nobel Prize winner Ada Yonath among the international panel of judges.

Youngsters aged 13 to 18 can enter the Google Science Fair by suggesting their own original idea for a research project, filming themselves and presenting the video on a special section of YouTube.

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The aim, says the ministry, is to inspire youths to get involved in science experientially, promote innovation and originality, expose the wonders of science to pupils and increasing the number or them who choose eventually to work in scientific fields.

The best will reach the finalist stage, with those selected being invited to Google’s headquarters in California.

There they will compete for the top prizes, the largest of which is worth $50,000.

Yonath, who won the Nobel in chemistry in 2009 for her lifelong work on ribosomes has been named the first Israeli to be on Google’s panel of judges. This is only the second year the competition is taking place. Last year, 7,500 projects from around the globe were presented.

Three American girls shared the first prize and the cash gift and were invited to the White House for a personal meeting with President Barack Obama.

The ministry said since no Israelis applied in 2011, it wanted to spread the word this year. They can present their ideas in Hebrew, Arabic or English.

The best 90 presentations will reach the semifinals, and 15 will be chosen among them for the finals. Proposals of scientific research can be made individually or in a group.

“We have an opportunity to show the world what brilliant and original minds we have among Israeli teenagers,” said Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz. “I call on young Israelis to take an example from Prof. Daniel Shechtman, the most recent Nobel laureate, and dare to think out of the box. Even if there are people who claim it’s impossible, present your original idea. There must not be a global science competition without Israeli contestants.”

The ministry is participating in the promotion of the project in Israel along with Google-Israel, which will hold preparatory workshops for teens and their teachers.

They will receive scientific advice on how to present proposals. The ministry is also considering the holding of a local competition with prizes for the Israeli presenters to the international Google Science Fair.

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