Changing Planet

Google Science Fair Opens Today!

Everyone has a question. What’s yours?

The annual Google Science Fair opens today, calling anyone and everyone 13 to 18 years old to push the edges of our knowledge and help pave the way to the future. Just like a school science fair, entrants submit their idea, perform their experiments and then present the results to be judged. What sets this event apart is the worldwide participation, world-renowned judges, and life-changing prizes. (How to enter the fair.)

NG Emerging Explorer Albert Lin. Photograph courtesy Calit2, Erik Jepsen

One of those judges is NG Emerging Explorer and 2010 Adventurer of the Year Albert Lin, who was also involved in the 2011 Google Science Fair. He was struck last year by the quality of the entries, and how students made “fundamental discoveries that could save lives.” (Read about last year’s contest and winners.) He also noted how “from one side of the planet to the other, you see the same curiosity” driving people to discovery. What makes it really exciting is that there are “different perspectives in every country,” he said, “and that’s a good thing.”

As the father of a toddler, Albert also appreciates the energy and fresh perspectives that young people bring to the search for knowledge and solutions to questions and problems facing the world. “Every day [my son] makes a discovery about something I take for granted…something I think I have all figured out,” he said. Seeing things for the first time though, kids can help adults realize “maybe we haven’t really figured it all out.” It’s this openness to and enthusiasm for discovery that Albert sees both as part of being a National Geographic Explorer, and one of the biggest lessons of the Google Science Fair.

The Google Science Fair is run in partnership with National Geographic, CERN, The LEGO Group, and Scientific American. Besides Albert Lin, the judges also include National Geographic Explorers like ocean legend Sylvia Earle and alternative energy innovator and evangelist T.H. Culhane, as well as major figures from Google, CERN, and more. The prizes include an NG trip to the Galápagos Islands, opportunities to work hands-on at CERN, LEGO, and Google, a $50,000 scholarship and more. 90 regional finalists will be announced at the end of May, 2012. Then 15 global finalists will be flown to Google Headquarters in California for the final round of judging on July 23.

Don’t let the pedigrees of the judges intimidate you though–the fair isn’t just for would-be-cast-members of “The Big Bang Theory.” As Google puts it, “Geniuses are not always A grade students. We welcome all mavericks, square-pegs and everybody who likes to ask questions.” So watch the video above, learn how to enter, and let the fair begin!

Everyone has a question. What’s yours?

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. He is currently beginning a new role as communications director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish.Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010.He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history.
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  • TW

    It’s fantastic that Google is doing this. But referencing “The Big Bang Theory?” Really? That show is about as pedantic as “Jersey Shore.”

  • john ragin


    ON Line???????????

  • […] post: Google Science Fair Opens Today! – National Geographic […]

  • Gerry Patey

    Sorry, have to ask the same. Where?

  • […] Google Science Fair Opens Today! The annual Google Science Fair opens today, calling anyone and everyone 13 to 18 years old to push the edges of our knowledge and help pave the way to the future. Just like a school science fair, entrants submit their idea, perform their experiments … Read more on National Geographic […]

  • Andrew Howley

    The fair itself starts out online, where all projects are entered, but it will conclude with live presentations of the 15 global finalists at Google Headquarters in California! Read more here:

  • shiv

    I am founder of, an online education website working for the welfare of student community in Eastern part of India. Recently we worked with National Innovation Foundation (Govt. of India) to promote Innovation in science and Technology among students and motivated them to participate in IGNITE innovative idea competition. We also Received award from Former president and Missile man of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for promoting Innovation among student very efficiently and effectively and that too volunteerly. Therefore, This time we want to take Google Science Fair to each and every student. Please let us know how to get connected with you and what are the procedure of it. My email id is and Waiting for your humble reply


    Why is age limited by 13 to 18yrs?

  • allet

    where is the science fair online ?? i like to see it =) i love science

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