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Editor’s Note: Today’s post is authored by Julene Reed, director of Polar Bears International’s Tundra Connections program, which connects scientists and educators in the field with students in remote classrooms 

An incredible journey takes place every fall when hundreds of polar bears migrate from the Canadian tundra to the shores of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba — a northern town known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” The polar bears congregate there, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze over. Once the ice forms, the bears are on the move again, roaming the frozen bay during the winter months and hunting for seals. It’s an extremely rare opportunity to experience this amazing migration first hand, and it’s something to behold. But, it’s not easy to travel there. There are no roads to Churchill, so your best opportunity to see a polar bear there is to fly north from Winnipeg and hop on board a Tundra Buggy for a bumpy trip along the coastline.
A screen capture from the Google Expeditions tablet, of a polar bear roaming the tundra imagined with the Street View Trekker, providing educators with context and information for what the students are seeing through Google Cardboard


But now there’s a way to experience the tundra these bears call home without packing a parka. In celebration of International Polar Bear Day on February 27th, Polar Bears International and Google are launching new Street View imagery and two new Google Expeditions: “Polar Bears and the Arctic Ecosystem” and “Churchill, Manitoba: Life in the Far North.” Using Google Cardboard and customized curriculum, students in classrooms around the world can now travel virtually with Google Expeditions and Google Street View to view polar bears and learn about the impact climate change is having on this unique ecosystem.

By tapping on the screen (left), teachers can guide students to specific aspects of the imagery they want to highlight, such as the Tundra Buggy and research tower, imaged with the Street View Trekker. Students view the imagery in Google Cardboard (right).



The stunning imagery highlighted within these Expeditions is the result of a long-term partnership between Polar Bears International and Google. The Google Maps team travelled to the Churchill region two years ago and then returned last fall. Over time, by returning to this ecologically–sensitive location and collecting Street View imagery and geospatial data, Google Maps users will have a virtual front row seat to witnessing the impact of climate change on the polar bear’s habitat. A Tundra Buggy collecting Street View imagery outside Churchill.
A Tundra Buggy collecting Street View imagery outside Churchill


These Expedition modules, developed in association with Polar Bears International, provide an opportunity to understand the consequences of rising temperatures in the Arctic. With the sea ice forming later every fall and melting earlier every spring, polar bears have less time to hunt, breed, and den. Google Expeditions offers students and teachers the opportunity to explore these issues and the polar bear’s fragile domain using Cardboard’s immersive 360° technology.

By bringing this virtual field trip to classrooms thousands of miles from the Arctic, we can offer a greater understanding of global warming and the plight of these majestic creatures.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog.)

We launched Voice typing in Docs to help you capture ideas, compose a letter, or even write the next great novel—all without touching your keyboard. Starting today, you can also edit and format your documents with your voice.

To get started, select ‘Voice typing’ in the ‘Tools’ menu when you’re using Docs in Chrome. Say what comes to mind—then start editing and formatting with commands like “copy,” “insert table,” and “highlight.”

Check out the full list of commands here or simply say “Voice commands help” when you’re voice typing.
It’s a quick and easy way to get ideas out of your head, and into a doc. So try out Voice typing (and editing and formatting) today!

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(Cross-posted on the Official Google blog.)

Editor's note: The 2016 Google Science Fair opens for submissions today. Together with LEGO Education, National Geographic, Scientific American and Virgin Galactic, we’re inviting all young explorers and innovators to make something better through science and engineering. To learn more about the competition, how to enter, prize details and more, visit the site, and follow along on Google+ and Twitter

In this post, 2015 Grand Prize winner, Olivia Hallisey, joins us to reflect back on her own experience with Google Science Fair.


I remember the day I first heard about the Google Science Fair last year. I was sitting in my 10th grade science class when my teacher asked us: “What will you try?” I loved the invitation—and the challenge—that the Google Science Fair offered. It was a chance to use science to do something that could really make a difference in the world.

I had always been curious and interested in science, and knew I wanted to submit a project, but didn’t really know exactly where to begin. I asked my teacher for his advice on selecting a research topic. He encouraged me to choose something that I felt passionate about, or something that outraged me, and told me to look at the world around me for inspiration. So I did. At that time, the Ebola crisis was all over the news. It was a devastating situation and I wanted to help be a part of the solution. I had found my project.

With the outbreak spreading so quickly, I decided that I wanted to find a way to diagnose the virus earlier so that treatment could be delivered as quickly as possible to those who were affected. I read online about silk’s amazing storage and stabilizing properties, and wondered if I could use silk to transport antibodies that could test for the virus. After many failed attempts (and cutting up lots of cocoons) I finally succeeded in creating a temperature-independent, portable, and inexpensive diagnostic test that could detect the Ebola virus in under 30 minutes. I was really excited that my research could help contribute to saving lives, and I was proud to be selected as the Grand Prize winner a few months later.

As the 2016 Google Science Fair launches today, I wanted to share a few tips from my own experience: First, as my teacher once guided me to do, look at the world around you for ideas. If you’re stuck, try the Make Better Generator to find something that excites or inspires you. Second, find a mentor who’s interested in the same things as you. There are a lot of helpful ideas on the GSF site to get you started. And finally, don’t get discouraged—often what first appears like failure can teach you so much more.

I urge other teenagers like me to take this opportunity to find a way to make the world around them better. Every one of us, no matter our age or background, can make a difference—and as young people, we’re not always so afraid to try things that adults think will fail. But change doesn’t happen overnight, and it often starts with a question. So look at the world around you and challenge yourself to make something better.
Science isn’t just a subject—it’s a way to make things better. So I hope you’ll join the conversation and enter the Google Science Fair this year. Our world is waiting to see what you come up with!

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Locker decorations. Teddy bears. Cupid Cards. For teens, Valentine’s Day can be a fun holiday, but it can also sometimes be an isolating and a shallow portrayal of love (source). We know love is about so much more than crushes and candy, so Google’s Made with Code initiative is teaming up with teen girls across the U.S. to reframe Valentine’s Day around the types of love that can bring the world closer together.

Today, Made with Code is launching its newest coding project, #CodedWithLove, inviting students to make their mark on Valentine’s Day by coding a unique digital heart with millions of possible combinations, and sharing a message expressing what love means to them. The project is available at www.madewithcode.com/projects/codedwithlove for all students and educators—no prior experience required.

Also launching today are five new Made with Code role models who are using computer programming to put more love out into their communities. These inspiring young women and brilliant minds are perfect examples of how community change and problem solving can make a positive impact.

The coding rockstars being celebrated today are inventors behind Instakarma, Parihug, PraisePop, Spectrum, and We Read Too. Learn more about their causes to bring the world closer together with code:

Instakarma
Looking for volunteering opportunities for students can be practically impossible because a lot of sites don’t cater to that age group, even though giving back has been shown to lower stress lives, improve moods and boost self-esteems (source). So Meera, Shreya and Leslie created InstaKarma, an app where volunteers can search for opportunities to help in their local communities with everything from small tasks to official community service events. Their advice to their peers is simple, “Just go for it. If you see a problem in the world around you, build an app to fix it.”
Parihug
What if technology could add a dose of humanity back into connections? That’s what two young women, Harshita and Xyla (pictured), wanted to accomplish when they created Parihug, a Wi-Fi enabled teddy bear that lets users send a virtual long-distance hug. When one bear is hugged, a signal is sent to its mate— activating soft, fabric-based, sensors, and sending a hug across thousands of miles. They have this advice to other teen girls getting into this field: “Combine technology with other things that you love! If you love drawing, bring your art to life with animation. If you love gaming, try building a videogame from scratch. If you love explosions, safely give yourself a capacitor fireworks show and learn about circuits in the process. The best way to learn is through projects that you are passionate about,” says Xyla.
PraisePop
After surveying their high school, friends Sloane, Jenny, Moe and Qiqi learned that only 11 percent of peer responders thought that their school was a “very kind community.” So, they set out to change that by building a mobile app to create a way for people to recognize each other, brighten each other's days, and see positivity all around them. The best part of being app creators so far? “It’s not about the number of likes. It’s about the joy you bring to someone else’s life,” says Jenny.
Spectrum
Inspired by the lack of safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community to communicate on the Internet, five programmers from San Diego created Spectrum, an app that provides a social media network for the LGBTQIA+ community looking for a safe support system. When these friends came together to start building, they didn’t want to make just another app. They wanted to create something that would be able to reach out to youth who are struggling and make a true difference in their lives.

We Read Too
Kaya’s been in love with reading since a very young age, but she found herself consistently disappointed with the lack of books on display featuring diverse characters and writers that were relatable to her. She realized that if she wanted to see positive change, she’d need to take the first step. That’s why Kaya put her technology skills to work by creating We Read Too, an app that makes it much easier for people of color to find books about and written by people of color. “Knowledge is power and coding is an outlet to create technology that makes positive impacts on communities,” affirms Kaya.
These young women are just a few examples of leaders in the Made with Code community and our partner organizations, like Technovation, Code.org, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology, who are changing the world for the better.

Google’s Made with Code initiative is focused on inspiring teen girls to try coding and to see it as a means to pursue their dream careers. Today, we hope you will join us in celebrating people who are using code to make an impact in the world by spreading love and positivity, and encourage the students in your life to take their first step with code.

Love is what we make it. If we work together, we can transform Valentine’s Day into something greater than ourselves. Join us in celebrating at #CodedWithLove.

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Editor's note: Georgia schools are seeing great success with Google for Education. We talked to educators and administrators in Georgia to reflect on how technology has helped them innovate and create more efficient processes. From creating more efficient ways for parents to pick their children up from school, to enabling more efficient coaching on the baseball field, technology has improved the student, teacher and parent experience across the state. To learn more about Google solutions for education, join us for a Hangout on Air focused on the next phase of content in the classroom on February 23rd at 2pm ET / 11am PT.

Many schools are replacing former processes with more efficient ways to personalize learning and provide students with the skills to be successful. That level of innovation requires teachers and staff to think about how they can use technology in new ways. Schools in Georgia are using Google Apps for Education to drive innovation in small areas that ultimately inspire new ways of thinking across the district. We’d like to shed light on how schools have transformed their old processes using technology.

Transforming lectures into project-based learning 


Old: For many students, elementary and high school involves listening to a teacher lecture, reading a textbook and taking tests. This common approach to learning leaves out the interactive elements that often help students learn best.

New: The Center for Design and Technology, a project-based STEM program at Lanier High School in Gwinnett County, gives students real-life experiences to apply the skills they’ve learned. Every student works on six team projects per year, and every team creates a website using Google Sites, with links to Google Docs, Sheet and Slides used for team planning and collaboration. “Google Apps helps students learn communication skills, collaborate with teammates and think creatively,” says Mike Reilly, technology teacher at Lanier High School.

The program has helped teachers and students learn outside of the classroom and expand the skills they’re most interested in developing. For example, a team of four students worked with video editor Walter Biscardi to create a 3D model of a disease spread by flies, which appeared in the PBS movie “Dark Forest Black Fly.” They shared ideas in virtual brainstorming sessions via Google Hangouts and collaborated in real time using Google Docs.

Bringing instant communication to an ineffective system 


Old: Picking up students from school is often a slow, disorganized process since schools often have thousands of students to manage and communication isn’t always the smoothest between all staff involved.

New: At Forsyth County Schools (case study), teachers and staff are using Google Apps beyond the classroom to help make the after-school pick-up queue more efficient. In the past, parking lot attendants who escort students to their cars and cafeteria attendants who supervise students didn’t have clear lines of communication. The principal turned to Google Sheets as the solution to increase communication.

All students are assigned a number in a shared spreadsheet. When a parent picks up her child, she displays the student’s number on the windshield, and the parking attendant uses a tablet to flag on the screen in the cafeteria that it’s time for the student to go to the pick-up area. Introducing new technology improved real-time communication and inspired teachers districtwide to talk about innovative ways to use Google Apps to improve processes.

Creating a more streamlined, collaborative process both in the classroom and out on the field 


Old: Monitoring and recording sports team performance can be a time-consuming and tedious process when it’s done the old-fashioned way with a notebook and pencil.

New: With Google for Education tools, coaches at Jeff Davis County Schools (case study) can record and keep track of the high school baseball team’s pitch speeds and number of pitches to make sure a pitcher isn’t throwing too many pitches. A member of the tech staff reads the pitch speed from a radar gun and enters the number into a Google Sheet using a Chromebook. Another Chromebook is connected to a TV in the dugout, so the coaches can monitor the speed and number of pitches thrown. With the sharing feature, the tech staff and coaches are able to view the same information that’s being edited in real time.

Coaches now have more information to make more informed decisions about their players. “If a pitcher has thrown too many pitches or hit pitch speed begins to decrease, the coach can determine if the pitcher needs to be taken out of the game and a relief is sent in,” says Keith Osburn, technology and special programs director at Jeff Davis County Schools.
Coach at Jeff Davis keeping track of pitch speeds on a Chromebook




Schools are continuing to reinvent old processes to provide students with a 21st century education. Check out more inspirational stories from schools.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ll head next. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.

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(Cross-posted on the Official Blog.)

Last October, we kicked off our annual Doodle 4 Google art competition, asking students to create a doodle to tell the world “What makes me…me.” This time around, we added a little twist: for the first time in eight years of Doodle 4 Google, there were no restrictions on the medium or materials kids could use to create a doodle. Kids took us up on the challenge. A quarter of all finalists used some non-traditional media—from clay and wood to origami, photographs and sheets of music—in their submission.

Today, Googlers are hosting surprise assemblies at schools from Waterville, Maine to Waipahu, Hawaii to celebrate the winners of each state and thank the teachers and parents who have encouraged them along the way. And for the first time ever, we’re announcing winners for Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico. See all 53 State and Territory Winners on our website.
Now, our finalists need your votes for a shot at having their doodle make it onto the Google homepage. Starting today through Feb 22, head to the Doodle 4 Google site to vote for your favorite artwork for each grade group. On March 21, we’ll announce the winner and four runners-up—and you’ll see the winning doodle on google.com.

Check out this year’s talented set of finalists and vote for your favorite!

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The power of search is undeniable. I realize that as a research scientist on the Search team I might be just a little biased, but the educational value of having the answer to any question at your fingertips is pretty powerful. Access to this world of information is only part of the puzzle though; actually knowing how to search is a skill.

To help you sharpen those search skills, we’re re-opening the Power Searching with Google online course starting February 8th. Through this free two-week course, we’ll show you new ways to be a great power searcher and share techniques that will sharpen your research skills. We’ll cover a wide variety of topics, from the advanced search operators (such as filetype: and site:), to the proper use of quote marks, to how to assess a web site’s credibility.

This course will run from Monday February, 8th through Sunday, February 21st. But if you can’t make that time, don’t worry, as we’ll be running this class continuously every two weeks until June. The next class will begin on Feb 22, then again on March 7, then March 21, and so on.

When you complete the course and pass the midterm and final exams, not only will have greatly increased your search skills, but you’ll also get a fancy certificate. And who doesn’t love a certificate!?

Register for the course now and we hope to see you there soon. In the meantime, here's a video explaining a bit more about what this course is all about:


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Editor's note: California schools are seeing great success with Google for Education. We talked to educators and administrators to reflect on how technology has changed what it means to teach and learn in California. From encouraging strategic thinking to improving writing skills, technology has enhanced the learning experience for students across the state.

For California students, backpacks are getting lighter as schools turn to Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education and cloud-based education apps in place of textbooks, pencils and paper. This new approach to learning is helping students improve their writing and critical thinking skills, while helping teachers and staff increase productivity. Inspired by how schools are innovating with cloud technology across the region, we’re highlighting a few of the successes in California schools:

1. Using the cloud to improve writing quality and creativity 


While writing is predominantly a solitary activity, timely feedback is crucial for helping students to improve their skills. Between 2010 and 2014, the administration at Del Mar Union School District in San Diego introduced Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education to all third through sixth grade classes at all eight schools throughout the district. With these new tools, Del Mar’s staff has seen students’ writing quality dramatically improve. With access to the cloud, students can easily share their assignments with other students and teachers to receive feedback immediately. By storing documents in Google Drive, students can also rest assured that their most recent work is saved and secure.

This new model of classroom collaboration inspires students to experiment and take more risks, knowing that they’ll receive feedback from teachers before getting a final grade. “Students’ vocabulary has increased. Now they’re using ‘million dollar words’ instead of ‘five dollar words’,” says fourth-grade teacher Stephanie Sullins. “They’re not afraid of making a mistake.”

Chromebooks and Google Apps have also been vital in meeting rigorous Common Core State Standards for writing. “The number of students reaching the top score on the state writing tests dramatically increased after the introduction of Chromebooks,” Sullins says.

2. Using the cloud to create an interactive educational environment


Los Angeles’ KIPP Academy of Opportunity and KIPP LA Prep discovered that the ability to work together, aided by cloud-based tools, pushes students to think more critically. As part of Google’s pilot program that began in spring 2011, the school district introduced 400 Chromebooks — a number that has now grown to 5,000 Chromebooks with hundreds more added each year. KIPP LA decreased their costs by deploying Chromebooks because they no longer needed to purchase expensive software licenses, servers, security solutions and maintenance plans for each device.

The educational impact for students has been notable. There has been a big shift from direct instruction and memorization of notes to an interactive classroom. Now, students work with one another on projects and share information through Google Hangouts and Google Drive.

“Students create and collaborate, rather than memorize and regurgitate,” said James Sanders, a former social science teacher at KIPP LA Schools. “It’s a better, more authentic model for learning.” As one of Sander’s students explains: “We walk into a social studies class, grab a computer, and check out Mr. Sanders’s blog, then we follow the tasks he sets.”

3. Using the cloud to inspire teachers and students to think outside the box 


The Dublin Unified School District’s teachers and staff needed a better solution for communication and for helping students stay organized. They piloted Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom, and received rave reviews from parents, teachers and students. Now, teachers, students and staff enjoy having one unified platform for email, calendar and document sharing — accessible anytime, from any device.

Technology has become deeply entrenched in Dublin schools. Dublin High School includes among its student body, Hania Guiagoussou, the youngest recipient to-date of Oracle’s Duke’s Choice Award for java programming. At Dublin High School, Guiagoussou was one of the many students who participated in the school’s computer programming class. Now, her first project, WaterSaver, is an award-winning, Java-based system that intelligently controls water sources. Guiagoussou’s story is one of many where technology has inspired a student to reach farther than she ever expected. 

Collaboration and sharing in the cloud has made it infinitely easier for schools to exchange information. Using Google Classroom, a student can share writing assignments with a teacher and receive instant feedback. With a few taps, a teacher can share lesson plans or curriculum ideas with her colleague using the Drive mobile app. Administrators know who’s attending the next staff meeting by glancing at a Calendar invite. California schools are doing incredible things by taking a leap toward the cloud.

Check out more inspirational stories from schools.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ve been. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleForEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.