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According to READAlliance, many primary school-age children in India have low literacy rates. In one survey of children ages 5-16 in rural India, nearly half couldn’t form words from individual letters. In another survey of fifth grade children, two-thirds were unable to identify the main theme of a passage they read.

To help address this, we recently partnered with READAlliance, USAID, the Centre for Knowledge Societies (CKS) and 10,000 Startups India to pilot the Chrome App Developer Challenge for Education. Run by the Google India Developer Relations team, the program encouraged developers to build Chrome apps for India’s primary school children with the goal of improving their reading skills and getting on a path of lifelong learning.

On July 5, thirty top developer teams came together at our Bangalore office and remotely via Google Hangouts to kick off the eight-week challenge. The developers, selected from hundreds of applicants based on their success in past hackathons, worked with mentors over the course of eight weeks to build and publish their apps. Content providers including Pratham Books and the educational cartoon series Chotta Bheem contributed relevant open-source content for the apps.
These 30 apps are now available for free on the Chrome Web Store. They represent a variety of fun learning experiences including interactive stories, reading comprehension quizzes, timed word-matching games, and a racing app that involves building complex words from alphabet tiles.

We announced the three winning apps — selected by educators based on the quality of their content as well as technical merits — on October 28. We’ll also feature them on the Chrome Web Store for three months in the hopes that even more teachers, parents and students will be able to access them. USAID and CKS plan to extend the reach of the apps by introducing them to schools for lower income children in India this year.

Visit the +Google for Education page on Monday November 3rd at 10:00 am GMT (or 3:30 pm India Time) to join the live Hangout on Air featuring the three winning apps. Education expert and TED Prize winner Dr. Sugata Mitra, will be joining the Hangout. Known for the seminal “Hole in the Wall” learning experiments, Dr. Mitra won the 2013 TED Prize to build a new kind of School in the Cloud where children can explore on their own and learn from one another using online resources. 

Congratulations and thanks to all who participated in the pilot challenge, and we hope to see the rest of you on Monday’s hangout.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work blog.)

Editor's note: Lisa Davis is Vice President for Information Services and CIO at Georgetown University, and former assistant director for information technology for the U.S. Marshals Service. She shares why the Georgetown Hoyas have gone Google using tools like Gmail, Docs and Drive for Education. Learn more about solutions for Higher Ed here.

There’s a reason “We are Georgetown” is emblazoned across our football field and even the Hoya food court: we take great pride in our identity as Hoyas, enriched by our diverse backgrounds, faiths and beliefs. Rooted in 225 years of history, Georgetown University makes a point of fostering an environment that supports ongoing innovation, open dialogue and intellectual inquiry in our teaching, learning and research.

Three years ago, we kicked off our five-year technology transformation strategy by moving our 20,000 students, staff and faculty members to Google Apps for Education. We saw an opportunity to pull our disparate IT systems into a unified suite and no on-premise solution could match Google Apps in collaborative features, storage, ease or cost-effectiveness. We also found that Google’s philosophy meshed well with our own cloud-first transformation strategy — anytime, any device collaboration and access for a seamless Georgetown experience, anywhere.
A Hoya works on-the-go outside Georgetown's Dahlgren Chapel
Since going Google, we’ve saved $120,000 per year on licensing costs. More importantly, we’ve created a connected learning environment that bridges the traditional and online classrooms. Professors hold office hours on Google Hangouts, classmates frequently collaborate on group projects with Google Drive, and busy students work better together on extracurricular projects using Google Calendar, Forms, Sheets and Docs.

The Corp, Georgetown’s student-run corporation and the largest student-run nonprofit, was one of the first organizations on campus to use Apps for coordinating schedules on the fly and planning events without in-person meetings. Now, student clubs and activities ranging from a capella groups to intramural sports teams use Apps to quickly and easily work together and communicate from any device.

Google Drive helps our faculty streamline communication with their students in and out of the classroom. Arnie Miles, a computer science adjunct faculty, runs his class on Drive. Each student adds the Drive app to his or her computer and shares a folder with the teaching assistant. Through Drive, TAs can collect and grade assignments, and provide step-by-step help from anywhere.

Google Apps has also allowed the university to deliver on the promise of “once a Hoya, always a Hoya” by extending Google accounts to all alumni for life. When students graduate, they keep their email addresses, calendars and all files stored in Drive, which now boasts unlimited storage.

Going Google played a critical role in our technology transformation strategy by enabling collaboration and information sharing across devices and helping us invest in a long-term vision for learning in the 21st century and beyond. We've come a long way in our journey, and look forward to continuing to enable innovation and intellectual inquiry at Georgetown through technology.

To learn more about Georgetown and how they’re using Drive and other Google for Education tools, join our webinar on November 13 at 12pm PST.

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(Cross-posted on Google for Work blog.)

Universities and schools continue to tell us that they want learning without limits. So last month, we announced that Drive for Education would be coming to all Google Apps for Education schools at no charge. This week, we’ll be rolling out unlimited Drive storage to all Google Apps for Education users and free archiving with Google Vault will be coming later this year.

Schools have helped shape our products over time, starting in 2006 when Arizona State University (ASU) was the first institution to make the move to Google Apps for Education. Just two years later, we celebrated two million active Google Apps for Education users at thousands of universities and today, we have more than 40 million students and teachers worldwide actively using Google Apps—from Keio University in Japan to University of Delhi in India, Chile’s Universidad Viña del Mar to the University of Ghana.
Students at George Washington University take advantage of the brisk Fall weather and opt to work outside on campus
But, like any good teacher knows, success is not about numbers; it’s about quality and impact. Students are moving from paper and pencils to cloud-based learning, with information and tools at their fingertips anywhere they are. For them, learning doesn’t end in the lecture hall. From online courses to 1:1 tablets to lectures via Hangouts, innovation in education is removing barriers for students and widening their horizons. We’re grateful that higher education institutions have innovated right along with us and helped provide feedback to improve our products.

Throughout this week, top academic institutions like Georgetown University and UT Austin will share how they’ve been using Google tools, including Google Drive, for the past few years to save money, increase collaboration between students and professors and raise the bar on learning and working, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

To learn more, visit our website: www.google.com/edu/highered

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Editor's note: Director Christopher Nolan shares his thoughts about education and the science behind science fiction to commemorate the upcoming release of INTERSTELLAR lesson plans. Read on for the interview.

Great art pushes our thinking in new directions. Robert J. Goddard became fascinated with space flight after reading War of the Worlds. Martin Cooper’s ideas for the cell phone were inspired by Captain Kirk’s Star Trek communicator.

Starting on November 5, the new film INTERSTELLAR from director Christopher Nolan will spark the imaginations of millions of future scientists. That’s why Google Play for Education is teaming up with Paramount Pictures and Google Certified Teachers to help middle and high school classrooms explore the mathematical, scientific, and literary concepts discussed in the film.

Schools can plan field trips now to see INTERSTELLAR, with group tickets available for screenings starting as early as November 3. When the film is released on November 5, we’ll introduce an INTERSTELLAR webpage for educators containing lesson plans related to the movie (tied to educational standards, of course).
We asked Christopher about his experiences at school and the research that went into the film.

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What was school like for you growing up? Where did you naturally excel and where did you have to put in the most work? 
I was a pretty good student as a kid, but my areas of strength definitely shifted over time: in elementary school my best subject was mathematics, but a couple of years into high school I had fallen behind in math and started to do better in English and Art.

Which parts of your education have been the most valuable in your career as a filmmaker? 
My degree was in English Literature, and has been invaluable to my understanding of storytelling at a fundamental level. As I make more and more films I find various aspects of my earlier education useful, sometimes in surprising ways. For example, my elementary understanding of geometry and mathematics was vital to the structure of Inception. Interstellar has taxed my early lessons in physics and astronomy. It all comes in handy, generally in ways I could never have foreseen.

INTERSTELLAR largely focuses on space travel. What drew you to choose this subject matter, and what were you hoping to explore? 
Space travel has always been the largest subject to take on visually. My hope with Interstellar is to bring a human perspective to cosmic elements that are often spoken of in purely abstract, theoretical terms.

What kind of research did you and your brother Jonathan do while writing INTERSTELLAR? Did any of the scientific findings you encountered along the way alter your approach? 
Jonah and I had access to a tremendous resource on Interstellar- renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who is an executive producer on the project. Kip was the focus of most of our research, and many of the things he was able to open our eyes to, such as the relationship between gravity and dimensionality, and the true nature of black holes and wormholes were vital to developing the finished screenplay.

How did you come to collaborate with Kip? What surprised you about his perspective on the universe? 
Kip was involved in Interstellar before I was. I had regular, brainstretching conversations with Kip as I rewrote the script and started planning the actual production. I would send him narrative challenges in terms of what I felt the story needed, and he would always do his best to see if there was a scientific method whereby the story could take these turns. His truly scientific approach surprised me in its purity- he would take nothing for granted- even ideas that I threw at him from his own writings! Everything had to be examined afresh in the light of current scientific thinking.

What do you want students to get out of INTERSTELLAR? What are your hopes for INTERSTELLAR Lesson Plans? 
I hope that Interstellar will interest some of the audience in exploring the actual science behind some of the extraordinary events seen in the film. Ideally, the Interstellar Lesson Plans will communicate the fascination I found for much of the science that we got to explore.

What advice do you have for students interested in a career in film? 
Some filmmakers pursue an education specific to filmmaking. This was not my path, and I have found that a broader education has been important to the way I've worked (see answer above). If you love something, you'll learn about it on your own time- formal education is about being taught things you never would have known to seek out yourself.

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Start planning your field trip on the INTERSTELLAR site. If your school is using managed Chromebooks or Android tablets, make sure you’ve enabled Google Play for Education so that teachers can find and share apps, books, and videos that take INTERSTELLAR lesson plans even further.

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(Cross-posted on the Research Blog.)

Since 2009, Google’s CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) grant program has connected more than 12,000 computer science (CS) teachers with skills and resources to teach CS in fun and relevant ways. An estimated 600,000 students have been impacted by the teachers who have completed CS4HS professional development workshops so far. Through annual grants, nearly 230 colleges and universities have hosted professional development workshops worldwide.

Grantees use the funds to develop CS curriculum and professional development workshops tailored for local middle and high school teachers. These workshops expose teachers to CS curriculum using real-world applications that spark students’ curiosity. As feedback from those teachers rolls in, we want to share some highlights from what we’ve learned so far.

What went well:

  • 89% of participants reported they would recommend their workshop to others
  • 44% more participants reported a “high” or “very high knowledge” of CS after their workshop vs. before
  • More than half of participants said they would use “most” or “all” of the activities or resources presented during their workshop.
  • In 2014 the number of teachers who took part in a CS4HS professional development workshop increased by 50%, primarily due to the funding of multiple MOOCs.

Ways to make a bigger impact:

  • Just 53% of participants said they felt a sense of community among the other workshop participants. Research by Joyce & Showers (2002) and Wiske, Stone, & Levinson (1993) shows that peer-to-peer professional development, along with ongoing support, helps teachers implement new content, retain skills, and create lasting change. We’ll explore new ways to build community among participants as we plan future workshops.
  • 83% of participants reported being Caucasian, which is consistent with the current demographics of CS educators. This indicates a need to increase efforts in diversifying the CS teacher population.
  • Outcome measures show us that the most knowledge gains were among teachers who had no prior experience teaching CS or participating in CS professional development -- a population that made up just 30% of participants. While we see that the workshops are meeting a need, there remains an opportunity to develop materials geared toward more experienced CS teachers while also encouraging more new teachers to participate.

We know there are many challenges to overcome to improve the state of CS teacher professional development. We look forward to sharing new ideas for working in partnership with the CS education community to help address those challenges, in particular by helping more teachers teach computer science.
At the University of Sydney CS4HS workshop teachers are learning how to teach
Computer Science without a computer during a CS Unplugged activity.

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Google Forms is a free and simple way to collect information--from quickly collecting preferences for the next field trip location, to having students provide peer feedback.

Over the last few months, Forms has been getting a bunch of updates to help you make good looking surveys, like new theme choices and the ability to create your own personalized themes.

To give you even more flexibility and options, we’re introducing add-ons for Forms—new tools, created by developer partners, that deliver even more features to your surveys (just like add-ons for Docs and Sheets).

Add-ons bring handy extras to your survey building experience, like setting a survey end date, sending custom emails based on responses, storing lists of choices that you frequently add to questions, and more.

You can access add-ons from the “Add-ons” menu in Forms, or by directly visiting the Forms add-on store.

Here are just a few of the growing list of add-ons that you can use today with Google Forms:

  • formLimiter: Close your survey automatically, after a maximum number of responses is reached, or at a date and time of your choosing.
  • gMath: Create both simple and complex mathematical equations along with graphs and statistical displays directly in your form.
  • Form Values: Store and pull from lists that you use regularly in Forms, like a list of staff, students, rooms, resources or anything you want.

We hope these new tools make your Forms creation process even easier and more helpful--and stay tuned for more--our developer partners will be launching even more add-ons in the coming weeks.

PS: If you’re a developer with ideas for creating your own add-on for Forms, here’s some documentation to get you started.

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The annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing wrapped up last week, and as attendees from all over the world head back to their schools, universities, companies, and organizations, we want to reflect on what our commitment to this Celebration means to Google.

What started as a vision and a blank piece of paper shared between Anita Borg and Telle Whitney over dinner in 1994, has now become the single largest gathering of women in computing. From the first conference in Washington DC with 500 attendees, the Grace Hopper Celebration has grown exponentially to the massive number of over 8,000 attendees this year.

Google has been attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for over a decade, and we are proud to show our long-standing dedication to this conference by partnering at the highest level as a Visionary Platinum Sponsor. Google has been working with the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) since 2004, and Alan Eustace, Senior Vice President of Knowledge, has been a member of the ABI Board of Trustees since 2006. To Google, Grace Hopper is more than a conference, it's an opportunity to invigorate and unite technical women.
20,000 glowsticks lit up the final night's celebration at GHC 2014
We experienced many highlights this year and encouraged attendees to post about their experiences as they happened using the hashtag #GoogleGHC14. These posts most accurately capture the exhilaration of GHC on-the-ground; excitement over seeing the self-driving car, reunions between interns, chatting with Megan Smith, the new Chief Technology Officer of the United States, and students pleased to demo Cardboard and get their very own to bring home.

Grace Hopper also reminds us of the work we have left to do to welcome future generations of women to the tech field and to retain those already here. GHC serves as a setting for women to share their experiences--and talk honestly about technology--the amazing, the awe-inspiring and even the extremely challenging aspects.

When we talk with faculty on college campuses, they frequently tell us how important the Grace Hopper Celebration is for their students, and that Grace Hopper can often serve as a game-changer for younger students in solidifying their interest in Computer Science. For that reason, Google was proud to sponsor travel scholarships for over 100 students, as well as invite and fund over 200 of our interns to join the celebration at Grace Hopper. These students came from all over the world; as far as Kazakhstan and South Africa. One travel grant recipient, Brianna Fugate, class of 2018 at Spelman College had this to say about her experience at Grace Hopper:
“Thank you so much for the opportunity and grant to attend Grace Hopper. When I share my stories with young girls considering tech I always tell them how important it is to have a strong network of social encouragement. It was an amazing experience to network with so many successful women in tech and gain insight as to what path I should be taking as a woman just beginning her journey in this industry.”
The Grace Hopper Celebration allows women in computing and their allies to connect, develop skills, and become invigorated as we - at Google and in the larger computing community - set our vision for bringing even more women into the technology industry. We can hardly wait for GHC 2015, and hope to see you in Houston!

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(Cross-posted on the the Google for Work blog.)

Primary school students in rural Australia are using Google Classroom to collaborate with astronauts on the Space Station. A school without any IT support in Mexico was able to go paperless with Classroom. And in the United Kingdom, a Holton, Oxfordshire school is exploring local historical villages and writing reports using Google Apps and Classroom.

These examples represent just a few stories from the more than 40 million students, teachers and administrators around the world who are using Google Apps for Education. Classroom launched this summer to make Google Apps for Education even simpler — saving teachers time and making it easier to collaborate with students. And today, we’re launching 5 improvements to Classroom, focusing on things educators and students around the world told us were most important to them:

Invite students more easily with Groups
If you already have a Google Group set up for your class, you can now use that group to invite students to Classroom. And if your school uses tools like School Directory Sync, your Google Apps administrator can sync your school’s class rosters from your student information system (SIS) into Google Groups, helping you use these groups to set up a class in seconds.
Teachers can create classes using existing groups
Mark assignments as “done”
Not all assignments require students to submit work online — like reading a chapter or conducting an experiment — so we’ve added the ability for students to simply mark assignments as "done" if there's nothing to turn in. We’ve also given the Assignments page a refresh, to make it easier for students to keep track of upcoming work.
Students can mark assignments as "done" if there isn't anything to turn in
Greater teacher controls
We’re also giving teachers greater control over their class stream. Teachers can now set permissions for whether or not their class can post or comment in the stream, they can mute individual students from posting or commenting and can even view previously deleted items in the stream.

Export all grades
Teachers will now have the ability to download grades for all assignments at once, making it easier to export assignments to any gradebook.

Sort by first or last name
And now teachers can also choose to sort students by first or last name, depending on their needs.

We hope that these updates make Classroom even more efficient and effective to use with your students. We'll be making regular updates throughout the year, so keep submitting feedback and stay tuned.

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The European Commission estimates that more than 900,000 high tech jobs will go unfilled in 2020. While digital competency is one of the most important prerequisites for getting a job, too few students are studying computing to prepare them with the skills they'll need. We want to help fill this gap. To help encourage more school age students to learn about computing, we’re participating in the European Commission initiative, Europe Code Week, which takes place Oct 11-17.

We’re providing small grants to organizations who are running events in nearly a dozen countries, from Spain to Slovenia. In Sevilla, Programamos is going to teach 100 students to code. In Athens, we’re supporting coding workshops for underprivileged girls with Greek Geekettes . Other innovative projects range from Atelier-Gouter du Code, which is bringing coding workshops to students in underprivileged areas of Marseilles, France, to Python for Everyone through the University of Ljubljana.

An important priority in this year’s event is encouraging girls to explore computer science. To that end, we are also coordinating Hangouts on Air interviews, hosting female Google engineers from across the continent to show children, especially girls, role models in the tech field. Tune in to Europe Code Week’s Google+ Page to watch the upcoming Hangouts on Air.

See Code Week’s events page to see all the different opportunities to participate in this celebration of computer science.

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At Google, we are passionate about introducing students to open source software development. Since 2005, the Open Source Programs team at Google has worked with over 10,000 students and over 485 open source projects in a variety of fields to create more code for us all.

For students ages 13-17 interested in writing code that could make a difference in the world, we're excited to tell you about a program designed to introduce you to open source software development: Google Code-in.
December 1, 2014 kicks off the fifth consecutive year of this international, online contest designed to introduce pre-university students to the world of open source development. Open source projects are about more than just coding, and this contest highlights a variety of ways to contribute to open source projects.

You might be thinking to yourself:
  • What is open source? 
  • What types of work do open source projects do? 
  • I’ve only taken one computer science class, can I contribute to an open source project? 
  • I’m not really into coding, how else can I contribute to open source? 
  • I’ve never participated in open source or an online contest before, can someone help guide me
  • Open source sounds fun, how can I get started?

If you’ve wondered about any of these questions and are a pre-university student (age 13-17) then we hope you'll join in the fun and excitement of the Google Code-in contest starting Monday, December 1st.

For seven weeks from early December to mid January, the Google Code-in contest will have students working with up to 12 selected open source projects on a variety of tasks. The different categories of tasks that students will be able to work on include:
  1. Code: writing or refactoring 
  2. Documentation/Training: creating/editing documents and helping others learn more
  3. Outreach/research: community management, outreach/marketing, or studying problems and recommending solutions
  4. Quality Assurance: testing and ensuring code is of high quality 
  5. User Interface: user experience research or user interface design and interaction
For more details on how you can sign up and participate, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Google Code-in site. On November 12, we'll also announce the the open source organizations that will be participating in the contest.

We look forward to welcoming hundreds of students from around the world into the open source family again this year, and hope you'll be a part of it this year.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Research Blog.)

College students are more interested than ever in studying computer science. There has been an unprecedented increase in enrollment in Computer Science undergraduate programs over the past six years. Harvard University’s popular introductory CS course CS50 has recently claimed the spot as the most enrolled course on campus. An astounding 50% of Harvey Mudd’s graduates received engineering degrees this year. However, while the overall number of students in introductory computer science courses continue to climb, the number of students who go on to complete undergraduate degrees in this field, particularly among women and under-represented minorities, does not match this increase in individual course enrollment (2013 Taulbee Survey).

Recent findings show that while students may begin a CS degree program, retaining students after their first year remains an issue. Research indicates that one of the strongest factors in the retention of students in undergraduate CS degrees is early exposure to engaging courses and course material, such as high quality assignments that are meaningful and relevant to the student’s life or classroom activities that encourage student-to-student interaction. When an instructor or department imbeds these practices into the introductory CS classroom, students remain excited about CS and are more likely to complete their undergraduate CS degree.

At Google we believe in the importance of preparing the next generation of computer scientists. To this end, we’ve created the CS Engagement Small Grants Program to support educators teaching introductory computer science courses in reaching their engagement and retention goals. We’ll give unrestricted gifts of $5,000 to the selected applicants’ universities, towards the execution of engaging CS1 or CS2 courses in the 2014-2015 school year. We encourage educators who are teaching CS1 and CS2 courses at the post-secondary level to apply to the Google CS Engagement Small Grants Program. Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2014 and will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. If you’re interested in applying, please check out the Call for Proposal.

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Editor's note: Last week, 16 year olds Sophie, Ciara and Emer, from Kinsale, Ireland, scooped the grand prize at the 2014 Google Science Fair. Today, they’re sharing more about their project and giving us a glimpse into their experience during the competition.

After working on our project for three years, we decided it was time to enter it into the 2014 Google Science Fair. Our project investigates a natural bacteria called rhizobium that’s found in soil and helps to speed up cereal crop germination. The inspiration for this project came when Emer was gardening with her mom. After pulling up pea plants, they noticed wart like nodules on the roots. Emer brought these into our science teacher, and it was here we learned that rhizobium bacteria lives in the nodules. We were told about the symbiotic relationship it formed with legume plants and we all found it to be an interesting bacteria.

At the same time, we were also learning about the African food crisis in our Geography class, which led us to wonder about ways we could help farmers whose crops die off before they even have a chance to grow in the soil. We thought, perhaps there is a way for us to use the science we’d learned about to help. And that was what sparked the whole project!

After carrying out many tests, our findings showed great potential. We found an increase in germination rate by up to 50% for barley and oat seeds, which could significantly decrease loss of seeds due to rotting. We also found an increase in dry mass yield of the crops by up to 70%. This could potentially mean the production of more food. It’s also possible that this reduces the amount of fertilizer needed, providing benefits for the environment. We believe that our project, along with our future work can really aid the food poverty challenge and the food crisis.

When we got through to the final 15 of the Google Science Fair, we were so shocked. The competition was an amazing experience — and we made so many memories during our time at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. We met the other finalists who came from all corners of the globe, each with a different story to tell. It was great to have so many people with common interests in the same room! On one of the days, the display hall was opened to thousands of middle and high school students and it was great to speak to them and to see their enthusiasm for science. When we were announced as winners of the Google Science Fair we were incredibly surprised, yet over the moon!
We’re now going to embark on new phases of the project, including large processing trials and advanced analysis of the mechanism behind our discovery. We also intend to investigate the other potential applications of rhizobium bacteria aside from agriculture.

Our advice to any student starting out on a science project would be to choose a subject in an area you are passionate about and to never give up. There's more than one way to answer the same question, and if you have to change the direction of your investigation once or twice (or even more!), that's okay.

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There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of students learning computer programming and coding. While these are indeed skills that will continue to become more critical, it’s important to note that Computer Science (CS) is much more than just writing code. It’s also the study of computers and algorithms including their principles, their hardware and software design, and their impact on society. Computer Science is about the way of thinking needed to solve complex problems and drive innovation, not just in tech, but also in fields as diverse as medicine and music.

Yet, despite the importance of learning CS, there simply aren’t enough students who understand the power and creativity that it holds. Even fewer have role models in the field or have access to opportunities to learn CS. There will be 1.4 million new computing-related jobs created in the US this decade, and if current trends don’t change significantly, the US will only produce enough undergraduates in CS to fill 32% of these jobs (NCWIT). This is a problem Google cares deeply about.

To address this, Google is focusing on where the greatest gaps are in attracting and retaining more students in Computer Science -- particularly girls and minorities, who have historically been underrepresented in the field. Today, women hold only 27% of all CS jobs (NSF). While the number of women studying STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) in college is generally on the rise, fewer are studying CS: women earning bachelor’s degrees in CS has dropped from 37% in 1984 to 18% in 2009.

Reversing this trend will be a collective effort. As Chris Stephenson mentioned in her recent post on Supporting CS Education, “achieving systemic and sustained change in CS education is a complex undertaking that requires strategic support that complements both existing formal school programs and extracurricular education.”
source: NSF
Google is committed to ensuring that all groups -- regardless of gender, ethnicity, geography, or socio-economic level — have equal access to CS opportunities because it is the right thing to do. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the issue, we commissioned a research study, Women who Choose Computer Science, to identify the drivers that motivate young women to pursue CS. Our findings show that 61% of these factors are determined before college. This means we’ve got to start early, at the K-12 level, and make sure students get the right exposure to CS, as well as encouragement from teachers, parents, and peers along the way. In addition to partnering with key organizations working to increase access to CS education, we’ve also launched initiatives such as CS First, an after-school and summer CS program for grades 4-8; Google Code-In, open source projects; Blockly Games, a series of educational games that teach programming; and CS4HS, a program that supports professional development for high school and middle school teachers.

Sustained interest in CS at the university level is also critical, and we’ve developed programs including Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) to help recent high school graduates transition to college CS classes and Engineering Practicum, which provides summer internships for rising sophomores and juniors. Beyond the classroom, we’re also working to change the perception of CS through Made with Code and a $50 million commitment to increasing young women’s access to CS. As Geena Davis says, “if girls can see it, they can be it.”

Through tailored programs based on research and ongoing support for the ecosystem, we can help students understand the promise of Computer Science and use its limitless possibilities to help solve the world’s problems.