As any teacher would tell you, the classroom isn’t the only place where learning happens — it’s just the tip of the iceberg. From parents who help students with homework, to extracurriculars, field trips and more, there are so many ways students can learn beyond the walls of the classroom. This is why today we’re announcing new features to help teachers inspire learning for students, regardless of place or time.

Parents and guardians stay informed with Google Classroom email summaries

Parent participation has a major impact on student learning. Today, we’re launching a new feature in Google Classroom that will automatically share summaries of student work with parents. Once invited by a teacher, parents and guardians can receive automated daily or weekly email summaries of student work and class announcements, making it easier to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the classroom.
“I enjoy helping my children prepare for assignments that they have coming up – and the earlier I know about them, the better,” says Michelle Barrette, a mother of five Medfield, Massachusetts students and pilot user of the new Classroom feature. “This way I can prevent them from missing deadlines and see if they need help brainstorming topics or solutions.”

Annotations help students color outside the lines — and the classroom

When teachers want to help students understand complex math or science concepts, visuals — like drawings on a whiteboard — can help. But how does this work when students and teachers aren’t in the classroom together? Today, we’re announcing the ability to annotate documents in the Google Classroom mobile app.

Using annotations, students can complete assignments, sketch out math problems or even create visuals of creative ideas directly on their devices. This gives students a portable classroom whiteboard on which they can easily draw and sketch. Now, thinking through complex homework challenges from home, school or on the bus is even easier. 

Teachers can use annotations to quickly grade assignments by writing directly on the student’s work, or highlighting the most important passages in a text or novel. Anne Farrahar, an English teacher in the Medfield Public Schools district, explains how her lessons benefitted from her high school students annotating a critique of Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice." “They highlighted all the ideas they thought were convincing arguments in one color, and all the ideas they disagreed with in another color,” says Farrahar. “This gave me the chance to assess students' individual understanding and, based on their responses, gather ideas for future lessons.” 

More Expeditions thousands of miles away or inside the human body

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the White House Kitchen Garden or what it would be like to travel inside the human body? Today we’re announcing new Expeditions that bring students far beyond the usual places they can travel. With these adventures, like a visit to Bhutan or an exploration of the human vascular systems, teachers are able to deeply immerse students in lessons, creating vivid and memorable learning experiences.
In addition, the Expeditions app is coming soon to iOS. More teachers, including those who use iPads, will be able to share Expeditions with their students by using full-screen mode on the devices in place of a VR viewer. With over 200 Expeditions available, we’re excited for them to experience these virtual field trips on more devices. 

More Google for Education features for busy teachers and curious minds

In celebration of the new school year, we’re excited to share more new tools for teachers and students to break down traditional barriers within the classroom: 
  • A more organized Classroom. To make Classroom even easier to use, teachers can organize the class stream by adding topics to posts, and teachers and students can filter the stream for specific topics. Plus, users can now preview documents, PDFs, images and videos, all without leaving Classroom. 
  • Share your screens wirelessly at school. With the latest Chrome update, Cast for Education is now available to all teachers and students. This free Chrome app carries video and audio across complex school networks and has built-in controls for teachers — no new hardware required. Look out for updates including support for secondary domains coming soon. 
  • Google Forms get an upgrade with images. In Forms, teachers can now add images to questions or as multiple choice answers. This is perfect for subjects like math when students need to show their understanding of diagrams and graphs. 
  • Inbox by Gmail for the classroom. Inbox by Gmail is rolling out to Google for Education users. Coming soon, email notifications from Classroom will be intelligently grouped in Inbox, making it easy for teachers and students to find important updates and highlights. 
Whether students are at home or in the classroom, teachers can continue to inspire and support their curiosity with Expeditions, Classroom, Apps and Chromebooks. Stay tuned this week on Google+ and Twitter for more details on these exciting new tools. 

Posted by Natalie Ang, Student, California State University, Fullerton

Editor's note: Natalie Ang is a student at California State University, Fullerton, majoring in Computer Science. She started a Google igniteCS mentorship program with her ACM-W chapter, and led the effort to introduce younger girls in her community to the world of programming.

My journey in computer science began in a computer systems class I took my freshman year of high school. Due to the many times I had to compile my program just to receive an error warning, I soon learned that programming takes much patience and effort. I found myself ready to throw the school computer out of the window, but the hours of frustration melted away the instant my program worked smoothly. That moment would become the reason I chose computer science as my major.

During my college orientation, I was told that girls make up 15% of the engineering field. The truth behind that shocking statistic became a reality when I experienced my first programming class where only 6 girls enrolled out of 40. Rather than be discouraged, it made me excited to represent the potential of women in engineering and lead me to join the Association for Computing Machinery Committee on Women (ACM-W) club. Like me, their goal is to increase the number of girls in engineering.

After becoming president of ACM-W, my club came across a program called Google igniteCS where groups can receive funding for their mentorship program. I knew that this opportunity would expand the club’s collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Orange County, so my team quickly applied with high hopes. When we found out that our club received funding, all of us were overjoyed and ready to put this money toward exposing young girls to the world of programming. For the next few months, the ACM-W hosted five events, each of them focused on teaching young girls scouts the countless possibilities involved with programming and where it can lead.

It wasn't easy creating the lesson plans from scratch or keeping everyone in the club organized, but we did it. Google not only gave us funds, but also the tools and suggestions to make our events successful. I'm fortunate to be a part of igniteCS and having the opportunity to share my passion for programming with other girls. Whenever I see their eyes light up from completing a task by themselves, I know that I am working towards the first step in increasing passion for engineering.
Another mentor and I set up Google Cardboard to use during a Google igniteCS session

Two of our mentees enjoying their Cardboard experience
igniteCS has allowed me to spread my passion for computer science and make a difference in the lives of girls in my own community. Through working with Google and the igniteCS team, I had the resources and support I needed to create a mentorship program that had the most impact. I am glad that I applied to igniteCS, and you should too!

igniteCS is accepting applications August 22nd - September 18th, 2016. To learn more, please visit our website at For more information about the application process, participate in our Hangout on Air on August 17th.


Editor's note: Today, we’re announcing 16 Global Finalists for Google Science Fair 2016. One of these top projects will become the Grand Prize Winner, announced live at the sixth annual Awards Celebration in September from Mountain View, California. To follow the final stages of this year’s competition, visit the Google Science Fair site, and follow along with us on Google+ and Twitter.

Thousands of projects. Hundreds of countries. Months of anticipation.

Please join us in celebrating the 2016 class of Google Science Fair Global Finalists!

From a breathalyzer test that could predict lung cancer to a carbon filter that may significantly decrease styrofoam waste, these top 16 projects from 9 countries around the world, represent the brightest ideas to make things better through science and engineering.

Meet the finalists 
Please join us and our partners — LEGO Education, Scientific American, National Geographic and Virgin Galactic — as we welcome the 2016 Global Finalists and their incredible ideas.

Maria (16) - Brazil
Maria (16) of Londrina, Brazil, wanted to solve a stomach-upsetting problem: around the world, most communities have a high percentage of people who don't produce the enzyme needed to properly digest milk, and in Brazil, at least 50 million people are affected. Buying lactose-free milk and non-dairy alternatives like soy or almond milk can be extremely expensive and difficult for most people to afford regularly, and while food manufacturers can produce lactose-free products fairly easily, the final product can reduce the quality and nutrient value of the milk in production. So Maria set out to create an affordable capsule that anyone can add to milk directly to neutralize its lactose in the comfort of their own home. After multiple experiments, she produced a reusable capsule that works from fridge temperatures to up to 37 degrees Celsius, and it performs equally well in both low-fat and regular fat milk. Her capsule can be reused to effectively neutralize the lactose enzymes in milk for up to seven days, and costs just pennies. Maria is excited to make her solution for removing lactose from milk easily accessible to anyone.

Fighting foam waste with recycled filters
Ashton (14), Julia (14), Luke (14) - United States
Ashton, Julia, and Luke (14) were stunned to learn how much expanded polystyrene waste (like disposable foam cups) littered the beaches of Central America. Back at home in Columbus, OH, the group were also dismayed to find that the US alone produces millions of pounds of polystyrene foam annually. This material takes up a quarter of America's landfills, and can take hundreds of years to degrade. Hoping to find a solution for recycling the material, the group's research showed that polystyrene foam is so difficult and expensive to recycle that most communities don't even make the effort to include it in their recycling efforts. Since expanded polystyrene consists of over 90% carbon, these young scientists put their heads together to see if they could find a cost-effective way to convert the material into something useful: carbon filters that can remove contaminants from polluted water. After testing several chemicals to break down the waste into an effective filter, the trio hit the jackpot, producing a carbon filter that could not only decrease polystyrene waste from any landfill, but also make water safe to drink.

Malaria monitoring on the go
Nikhil (15) - United States
Nikhil (15), a student living in New Jersey, had a serious family health scare when his aunt nearly died of a particularly resistant malaria strain in 2015. Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide annually, mainly in less developed countries like Africa and India. Nikhil's aunt lives in a rural part of India, and while she was able to receive basic diagnosis and treatment, her doctor did not have access to laboratories that could determine how much of the malaria parasite she had in her blood, and to what degree her medications were working to remove them. His aunt almost didn't recover because of this, so Nikhil was determined to create an affordable solution to test for more than just whether or not a patient has malaria. Expanding on the basic principles of enzyme analysis used in immunology, he built an app and device that can analyze malaria parasite levels in the blood that requires no lab and minimal power: all you need is a photo from a smartphone camera to analyze the light and $50 worth of materials. Nikhil is currently in talks with the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and hopes to share his malaria testing solution with the world.

No more thirsty crops
Kiara (16) - Johannesburg 
Kiara (16) lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, which like other nearby countries, is suffering from the worst drought the region has seen in over 20 years. Kiara believes that a critical solution to long term water needs is a special material that can hold hundreds of times their weight in water while stored within soil. Typically, these materials are man-made and filled with harmful chemicals that are both non-biodegradable and too expensive for local farmers to afford. Through her research, Kiara found the ideal material in a simple orange peel, and created a way to turn this everyday waste into soil-ready water storage with help from the avocado. Kiara hopes this low-cost material can reuse food waste while helping local farmers save both money and their crops.

KeepTab: never lose your things again!
Shriank (16) - India 
In Bangalore, India, Shriank (16) enjoys engineering and coding applications to build innovative solutions that can help people in his community. He noticed that as we get older our ability to keep track of items we use on a daily basis deteriorates. This can make life particularly stressful and difficult for people with memory-related illnesses like dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or amnesia. So Shriank created a wearable device that can keep track of static (non-moving) objects in the world around you, as well as objects you may pick up and move yourself. While wearing the device, you can use Google Now to easily find out where you left everything from your medicine to your keys. With the ability to track objects with over 90% accuracy in ambient light, the KeepTab app relies on only your smartphone and your wearable device, making it easy to use and afford. Shriank hopes his invention can help people struggling with memory loss to improve the quality of their everyday lives.

Powerful Paint: the next generation battery 
Marion (18), Joy (18), and Sonia (18) - Singapore 
Marion, Joy, and Sonia (18) live in Singapore and specialize in three different scientific fields: biomedical research, chemical engineering, and chemistry. These students decided to improve the design of the modern supercapacitor: an energy storage device that outperforms batteries significantly. It also lasts for over a decade, requiring less frequent replacement versus chemically-based batteries that can harm the environment as waste. Today, supercapacitors are physically created and mounted onto the surface of a device (like a smartphone). But, given their rigid shape, it can be difficult to apply them to non-standard shapes and they can be easily damaged. The trio of scientists created a paintable supercapacitor design: completely flexible, their design can adhere to a wide variety of surface types and still retain a significant amount of energy even when damaged. The group hopes their new design will be used throughout the electronics industry to improve devices like smartphones and even hybrid electric cars, making renewable, portable energy easily accessible for everyone.

Keeping farms alive on a budget 
Mphatso (18) - Zambia
In Lusaka, Zambia, family involvement in local politics has made Mphatso (18) keenly interested in reducing poverty in his community. As Southern Africa struggles to recover from its worst drought in decades, farmers are seeing their crops destroyed due to El Nino weather changes, leading to famine for millions. Without crops, farmers can't make a living, making it harder than ever for them to pay for the farming supplies they need to keep their farms fertile and their families thriving. To help local farmers find low-cost, affordable solutions for pesticides and fertilizers, Mphatso investigated alternative ways of generating the supplies farmers need. He created a simple, portable production station that requires basic cooking materials like charcoal and local plant leaves from the ground. Based on his methods, Mphatso believes farmers can save hundreds of British Pounds in costs, saving ~50% on fertilizers and ~80% on pesticides to help them produce better, more abundant crops.

Smart wound care for the future 
Anushka (13) - United States 
Anushka (13) lives in Portland, Oregon and she really enjoys chemistry. Inspired by Marie Curie, whose work contributed to major advances in modern medicine, Anushka wanted to find a solution for a commonly overlooked medical problem: chronic wound care. In the US there are about 165 million injuries a year, and many of those patients suffer from chronic, larger wounds that require more complex care. Recent science shows advanced wounds need a wet environment to heal, and if dressings are changed too often, these wounds can take weeks or even months to heal. This leaves many patients susceptible to recurring infections and pain for unnecessarily long periods. Anushka wanted to create a sensor that could help doctors analyze the state of a wound without removing its dressing, and after multiple iterations on her design, she created an ideal sensor design that is cheap to build and biocompatible. Anushka believes her solution can help people suffering from chronic wounds heal more quickly, so they can get back to living life.

Flawless cars through the power of light
Nishita (13) - United States
Nishita (13), of San Jose, California, loves coding, physics, and biology. Fascinated with how cars are produced in vehicle manufacturing plants, she was surprised to discover that human specialists perform random visual tests to subjectively determine whether a car's exterior has any defects later in the car production process. This can mean expensive corrections, slowing car production down and lots of extra metal waste late in the process. Nishita was inspired to design an automated scanning system that can accurately find defects in metal sheeting at the beginning of the production process. Her system analyzes light reflection to detect dents, scratches, and other defects that aren't easily seen by the human eye. Nishita believes her system can easily be implemented via robotic arms in automated car production lines, and she hopes that her work can help reduce factory waste, improve car quality, and keep car costs low.

Saving our breath: detecting lung cancer early 
Xin Yong (18) - Malaysia
Xin Yong (18) of Seremban, Malaysia, was shocked and worried when he heard that his mathematics teacher, a non-smoker, had suddenly developed advanced lung cancer - the most common form of cancer in the world. Whether or not smoking is the cause, patients’ breath contains similar chemicals once they have the disease. As a young scientist particularly interested in nanotechnology, Xin Yong used his skills to create a sensor that can detect the progression of lung cancer by analyzing their breath. He tested his device on patients formally diagnosed with cancer, as well as patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (who were yet to be diagnosed), and finally patients who were non-smokers and not diagnosed to have pulmonary disease. Xin Yong's device costs only $1, is easy for anyone to operate, and it can provide test results within 10 minutes. Given that the device only requires the patient to breathe into it, it's an easy test to administer. Xin Yong believes his device can help doctors and patients to catch lung cancer early enough to treat it easily and potentially eliminate the cancer entirely.

Beating breast cancer with better tests 
Anika (14) - United States
As a young woman, Anika (14) of Cupertino, California is acutely aware of the health problems facing women around the world. In particular, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women with cancer, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Curious about how current medicine predicts the likelihood of breast cancer, she researched testing methods and was disturbed to discover that more than 1/3 of the predictive tests using digital mammograms are inaccurate, relying on a 64% Area Under the Curve (AUC) accuracy that is too low to be useful. So, Anika set out to create a more accurate testing model, designing software that analyzes digital mammograms with 84% AUC accuracy. Anika is excited to offer a solution for predicting breast cancer that could eliminate costly and painful invasive procedures for women while helping them enjoy healthier, longer lives.

Smart Snapshots: storytelling with smartphones
Ryan (15) - United States
Hailing from Arlington, Virginia, Ryan (15) loves programming and building apps. With his smartphone always by his side, he found himself wondering if the camera on his phone could be used to analyze a substance and immediately recognize that substance. After heavy research and experimentation, he coded a software program that analyzed images taken with and without the infrared smartphone camera setting to test them for color and shape to identify the exact substance. He used common items like food scraps, cotton cloth, aluminum foil, and a leaf for his tests, and his application correctly identified the substances in every case. Ryan hopes infrared imaging smartphone technology can be used by the health industry along with his program to identify substances like cancerous cells quickly at a relatively low cost or hazardous substances to protect scientists without the use of lab equipment.

Avoiding landfills with sreshto pads 
Saliha (15) - Bangladesh
Growing up in Pakistan and Bangladesh opened Saliha's (15) eyes to the sheer volume of waste being generated by these densely populated areas, leading her community to host some of the world's largest landfills. Determined to find a solution to cut down on non-biodegradable waste, Saliha turned to a common personal hygiene item: sanitary pads. With the local economy booming with the sanitary industry, she knew it was only a matter of time before landfills would become overwhelmed with these products, which contain plastics and harmful chemicals. So, Saliha created a safer, chemical-free option made entirely of plant materials that will degrade in just two year's time. She hopes her new "Sreshto" pads will help more local women feel comfortable while also making the environment safer for everyone.

Streamlining rockets for space
Charlie (16) - United States

Charlie (16) lives on Martha's Vineyard Island, Massachusetts and he's fascinated with aerospace engineering, particularly rockets. Rockets are used in everything from exploring space to environmental research and the global positioning systems that help us figure out where we're going with our smartphone map apps. He's been building his own rockets since 6th grade, and Charlie was recently inspired to find out if he could make jet rockets even more efficient. Typical jet performance is controlled by fins built with complex mechanical pieces that can weigh down a jet and lead it to perform at lower speeds and altitudes. After experimenting with multiple fin types, Charlie determined that Synthetic Jet Actuators offer the best aerodynamic control for rockets. The more efficient rockets are, the less fuel they'll use, keeping costs low. Charlie believes that if the Synthetic Jet Actuator is used in the production of all rockets they'll be even more effective at performing their various missions on Earth or in space.

More rice with less water 
Mansha (15) - India
In India, over 50% of people in India depend on agriculture, including rice cultivation, to make a living, but many farmers do not have the resources or knowledge to efficiently manage these crops. Even more alarmingly, many rice crops waste high volumes of water due to this problem, and farmers often over-water their crops, negatively impacting their own rice yields. Eager to find a solution, Mansha (15) of Hyderabad, India, wanted to create a low-cost way to monitor water levels in rice paddy fields as well as automate water levels for the best possible crop yields. She designed an automated irrigation system that waters crops based on their age, with the potential to save 30% of the water normally used per hectare of land as well as increase rice crop yields by up to 13%. Mansha looks forward to seeing her system conserve significant amounts of water while improving crops and minimizing financial stress and labor for farmers.

ExoHeal: Retraining your brain with robots 
Zain (16) - Saudi Arabia
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Zain (16) became interested in robotics at a young age and wondered how he could help the 200 million people living with disabilities worldwide. Many of these people suffer from lost motor function, and while some rehabilitation centers do offer robotic exoskeletons in recovery therapy, the equipment is often bulky, expensive, and focused only on assisting patients with regular exercise. Zain had a question: could an exoskeletal robot retrain a patient's brain to develop new pathways and completely recover or improve their motor skills? Using the human hand for inspiration, Zain designed an exoskeletal robotic glove that mimics the movement of a sensor hand in parallel. After testing, he found that his own motor skills in the "learning" hand appeared to be improved after use. Featuring a design that's lightweight and completely customizable to the wearer's hands, Zain believes his "ExoHeal" device can help physically disabled patients around the world navigate more easily through life.

What’s next for the Global Finalists? 
This is just the beginning. We can’t wait to welcome these 13-18 year olds to the sixth annual Google Science Fair Awards Celebration in California for the chance to win one of our awards including a $50,000 scholarship. Here, an esteemed panel of judges will review the 16 finalists and announce the much-anticipated winners. Don’t miss the Awards Celebration, livestreamed on our website, on September 27th.


At Google, we’re always excited to see how technology can help inspire new ways to learn – especially to learn about the world. For years, Google Maps has been adding 3D imagery from all over the world – New York City, the Grand Canyon, Mont Blanc, and more. A few of us started wondering if this 3D imagery could make learning about the world a bit more fun for kids. We started playing with quick prototypes, and even brainstormed with our own kids to get inspired by their sense of curiosity.

Our idea became a new, experimental app called Verne: The Himalayas. It invites you to explore the Himalayas as a 500 foot Yeti named Verne. You can run up Mt. Everest, chase yaks, discover bits of information, ride a jetpack, play Himalayan instruments, and more.

We're excited to share it today as a fun way for anyone to take a summer trip to the tallest mountain range in the world. Get the app for your Android device from the Play Store, or learn more here.


(Cross-posted on The Huffington Post and the Google Research blog.)

Last year, I wrote about the importance of teaching computational thinking to all K-12 students. Given the growing use of computing, algorithms and data in all fields from the humanities to medicine to business, it’s becoming increasingly important for students to understand the basics of computer science (CS). One lesson we have learned through Google’s CS education outreach efforts is that these skills can be accessible to all students, if we introduce them early in K-5. These are truly 21st century skills which can, over time, produce a workforce ready for a technology-enabled and driven economy.

How can teachers start introducing computational thinking in early school curriculum? It is already present in many topic areas - algorithms for solving math problems, for example. However, what is often missing in current examples of computational thinking is the explicit connection between what students are learning and its application in computing. For example, once a student has mastered adding multi-digit numbers, the following algorithm could be presented:
  1. Add together the digits in the ones place. If the result is < 10, it becomes the ones digit of the answer. If it's >= 10 or greater, the ones digit of the result becomes the ones digit of the answer, and you add 1 to the next column.
  2. Add together the digits in the tens place, plus the 1 carried over from the ones place, if necessary. If the answer < than 10, it becomes the tens digit of the answer; if it's >= 10, the ones digit becomes the tens digit of the answer and 1 is added to the next column.
  3. Repeat this process for any additional columns until they are all added.

This allows a teacher to present the concept of an algorithm and its use in computing, as well as the most important elements of any computer program: conditional branching (“if the result is less than 10…”) and iteration (“repeat this process…”). Going a step farther, a teacher translating the algorithm into a running program can have a compelling effect. When something that students have used to solve an instance of a problem can automatically solve all instances of the that problem, it’s quite a powerful moment for them even if they don’t do the coding themselves.

Google has created an online course for K-12 teachers to learn about computational thinking and how to make these explicit connections for their students. We also have a large repository of lessons, explorations and programs to support teachers and students. Our videos illustrate real-world examples of the application of computational thinking in Google’s products and services, and we have compiled a set of great resources showing how to integrate computational thinking into existing curriculum. We also recently announced Project Bloks to engage younger children in computational thinking. Finally,, for whom Google is a primary sponsor, has curriculum and materials for K-5 teachers and students.

We feel that computational thinking is a core skill for all students. If we can make these explicit connections for students, they will see how the devices and apps that they use everyday are powered by algorithms and programs. They will learn the importance of data in making decisions. They will learn skills that will prepare them for a workforce that will be doing vastly different tasks than the workforce of today. We owe it to all students to give them every possible opportunity to be productive and successful members of society.