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Google Science Fair 2012

ScifairI was pleased to hear that the Google Science Fair was back for the second year. This is an annual event that adds excitement for student scientists around the globe. It’s open to students ages 13-18. All projects are submitted online. Last year, the Google Science Fair became the largest online science fair in the world with over 7, 500 entries from more than 90 countries.

There are some changes this year, which should add to the international challenges.

  • Accepting submissions in 13 languages
  • Choosing 90 regional finalists: 30 each from the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Asia Pacific
  • A “Science in Action” award, sponsored by Scientific American for a project that addresses a social, environmental or health issue to make a practical difference in the lives of a group or community

Submissions are open through April 1, 2012, and Google will announce the regional finalists in May, and select the 15 finalists in June 2012. Google Science Fair winners will be awarded their honors in Mountain View, CA on July 23, 2012.

As a teacher, I used to love science fairs as much as the kids did. My students enjoyed really becoming scientists, and even though I tried treating them like that, they filled the role completely at science fair time. Whether students worked alone or in a group, the vocabulary, planning, experimenting, lab notes, results and reports blended for the most professionally done presentation students’ could do.  I’m pleased that all of this is not lose on Google’s education crew.

Please visit www.google.com/sciencefair for more information and check their post on the Official Google Blog.

Touch Communications: Special Needs Students

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Russ EwellReviewer: Russ Ewell

Position: Chairman

District/School: Hope Technology School (HTS), Palo Alto, CA

Number of Students in School: 120 students

Products: HP TouchSmart PC and Voice Notes

Goals:

We needed an affordable solution that helps students with disabilities learn and interact easier.

Response:

TouchSmart technology has accelerated learning and helped to bring HTS students with special needs out of social isolation. The TouchSmart PC has been easy to integrate. The device costs roughly one-fifth the price of traditional Assistive Technology (AT) tools developed with proprietary hardware and software.

Learning Curve:

Teachers and students have found it extremely easy to use. The TouchSmart is an all-in-one touch-enabled PC—making it unique. Users simply touch, tap or sweep a finger across the screen to access information, the Internet, or social. No keyboard or mouse is necessary.

How We Use It:

Students can play music, video chat, check the weather, or watch TV. Children with autism use the device to practice speaking. Students send video e-mail using the webcam, and create videos for class projects. A favorite activity is Jeopardy, with the answers derived from coursework.

What’s Ahead?:

HTS is developing software to help people with special needs match icons and speech to communicate. It has opened a pilot technology lab to make devices available to the community at large.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Best in Tech Today are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.