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. -Ed.

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!

The Official Google Blog

Question by whoanelly: What are some realistic ways that a person can do better financially?
When my daughter turns 18 soon, child support payments will cease. This will in turn leave me with only one income. My net income (from work, minus child support) will be 771 dollars less than my money going out. The only bills that can be eliminated are phone/internet, cell phone, and student loan. The latter will be paid off shortly. Eliminating those three will still have me in the red. I live in a rural area, so public transportation is unheard of. I make "too much" money to qualify for any welfare assistance, subsidized housing, etc. I am classified as working class, lower middle class. I have two teenagers. The oldest will be graduating. I work 3rd shift. I can go to 2nds and make the same but not see my kids. My boyfriend gives me 40 a week toward food. He will not move in, though. I have a relative in California who will take us in, but that doesn't solve my long term problem. And the cost of living is high. I have only an AA degree. Any suggestions

Best answer:

Answer by north
For starters, invest only in yourself. That means buying and keeping non-perishables on hand - in bulk. Buy large. Stay stocked.

You will always need to go to the bathroom. Keep toilet tissue, kleenex and sanitary items on hand - always.

You will always need to wash yourself and your hair. Buy bar soap in bulk - on sale. Don't be afraid to stock up when you have the opportunity. You don't need shampoo for your hair - bar soap works just fine. And you don't need dish detergent for your sink nor your dishwasher. Wash by hand, save water and use a scrubbing spnge after rubbing it on a bar of soap. Economize.

If you always use paper towels, stock up on them. Vitamins, stock up on them. Buy the generics that say on the label to "compare to_____."

Keep freeze dried foods on hand - these are better than dehydrated because the nutritional values stay in.

How does this help? These are things you won't need any more because you have them on hand. That will curb your spending needs in the future. Never let your stocks run short to the point of having less than a case on hand.

You will always need deoderant - buy the generic and save big on multiple purchases. In many states, Suave or the store brand is just as good as the more popular brand names.

keep a good supply of sugar, honey, low cal sweeteners on hand as well as flour, baking soda and baking powder. You know you need these items - stock up on them while you can.

When you are hit with leaner times, the more you stock up on now the less you will have to buy when your really can't afford to get all the things you usually shop for.

What do you think? Answer below!

Question by : What is better: residual income or health/401k benefits?
As an outside sales representative, what should I choose:
Job A: commission + residual income
Job B: commission + health/401k benefits

Best answer:

Answer by car253
A. Take the commission and income and buy your own health insurance and 401K.

Whichever one gives you the most money.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Question by Red Sox 27149: Brooklyn is a better place due to Whites moving in?
Blacks and Hispanics are shooting each other, selling drugs, spending their money on foolishness such as sneakers, numerous pairs of blue jeans, new cars, and non-money making, residual income generating things. Whites, Arabs, Asians, Jews never really left Brooklyn. Blacks kept them there by paying rent instead of pooling their money and buying those properties. This is why black Brooklyn is the way it is.

Best answer:

Answer by Tim
That is oversimplification of the socioeconomic and ethnic history of New York. African-Americans, African diaspora, and Hispanics are certainly among the more impoverished groups. But without them we wouldn't have had the Harlem Renaissance or rap music and hip-hop culture. Often the most life affirming art comes out of conflict and struggle.

You might like watching Spike Lee's film Do The Right Thing. It is a brilliant insight in to the ethnic history and tension in Brooklyn.

Add your own answer in the comments!

Question by Red Sox 27149: Who else believes that Brooklyn is a better place due to Whites moving in?
Blacks and Hispanics are shooting each other, selling drugs, spending their money on foolishness such as sneakers, numerous pairs of blue jeans, new cars, and non-money making, residual income generating things. Whites, Arabs, Asians, Jews never really left Brooklyn. Blacks kept them there by paying rent instead of pooling their money and buying those properties. This is why black Brooklyn is the way it is. Whites, Arabs, Asians, Jews plan for their children's tomorrow's. Blacks and Hispanics live only for today and the moment.

Best answer:

Answer by The Master

What do you think? Answer below!

Building a better map of Europe

More than a billion people use Google Maps each month to find their way around town and around the world. To help these people get exactly the information they need, the Google Maps team works constantly to ensure that the geographic data behind our maps is comprehensive and accurate. As part of this ongoing effort, we’ve just released updated maps for 10 countries and regions in Europe: Andorra, Bulgaria, Estonia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Today’s update is part of a project called Ground Truth that began in 2008. Through this initiative, we acquire high-quality map data from authoritative sources around the world and then apply a mix of advanced algorithms, supplemental data (including satellite, aerial and Street View imagery), and human input to create a map that corresponds as closely as possible to the real-world facts that you’d find if you were to visit that location.

For example, this update adds a new 70-km section of Bulgaria’s Trakiya motorway, which opened recently to drivers but hasn’t been reflected on most maps of the region until now.

But roads and highways alone don’t define the character of a place, and they aren’t always sufficient to help you get around. So Google Maps also integrates information such as walking paths, ferry lines, building outlines, park boundaries, university campuses and more—providing a richer, more comprehensive and more realistic experience for locals, visitors and armchair travelers alike.

Our new map of Spain, for example, not only shows the famous Museo del Prado and Parque del Retiro in Madrid, but also includes additional building models in surrounding neighborhoods, the well-known “Estanque” (or pond) in the center of the park, and detailed walking paths throughout both the park and the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens.

Of course, the world is always changing, and we want Google Maps to change with it. So when you notice something on the map that needs updating, let us know through the simple “Report a problem” tool in the lower right corner of the map. We’ll make the appropriate changes to the map—often within just a few minutes or hours of reviewing and verifying your feedback! This tool launches today in the 10 places where we’ve updated our maps, and is already available in dozens of other countries around the world.

With today’s release, the maps that we’ve built through our Ground Truth initiative are now available in a total of 40 countries worldwide. To see the progress we’ve made to date, take a look at the image below (click for a full-size version).

We hope today’s launch of more comprehensive and accurate maps of Europe will help you explore amazing places from Barcelona and Budapest to Bratislava and beyond.

The Official Google Blog

Giving you a better Google

We work every day to create a more seamless, beautiful user experience—to give you a better, easier-to-use Google. This means continuously improving the products we offer, and recognizing when users of one product might have a better experience with another. Over the past year, we’ve made changes to around 50 products, features and services—donating, merging and shutting things down so we can focus on the high-impact products that millions of people use, multiple times a day. Today, we’re announcing a few more changes:

  • We introduced Google Apps for Teams in 2008 to allow people with a verified business or school email address to collaborate using non-email applications from Google like Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Talk. Over time, we realized that Google Apps for Teams was not as useful for people as we originally anticipated. Beginning September 4, 2012, we'll start converting existing Google Apps for Teams accounts into personal Google Accounts, and shutting down Google Apps for Teams. This change does not affect other editions of Google Apps.
  • We launched Google Listen through Google Labs in August 2009, to give people a way to discover and listen to podcasts. However, with Google Play, people now have access to a wider variety of podcast apps, so we’ve discontinued Listen. People who have already installed the app can still use it, but after November 1, podcast search won’t function. You can access your podcast subscriptions in Google Reader in the “Listen Subscriptions” folder and download them from the Import/Export tab.
  • Google Video for Business is a video hosting and sharing solution that allowed Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Education customers to use video for internal communication. Starting this fall, we’ll migrate all videos hosted on Google Video for Business over to Google Drive, which has similar storage and sharing capabilities. All migrated videos will be stored for free and will not count against a user’s Google Drive storage quota.
  • Finally, Google maintains 150+ blogs and other communications channels about our products and services, and so over time we'll also be closing a number of Google-created blogs that are either updated infrequently, or are redundant with other blogs. This doesn't mean that we'll be sharing any less information—we'll just be posting our updates on our more popular channels.

Technology has the power to change people’s lives. But to make a difference, we need to carefully consider what to focus on, and make hard decisions about what we won’t pursue. This enables us to devote more time and resources giving you products you love, and making them better for you.

The Official Google Blog

Sparking a better conversation with Wildfire

Businesses around the world—from neighborhood restaurants to major retailers—are embracing social media to share information and forge stronger relationships with their fans and customers. We know because we are one of those businesses—on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Indeed, a social presence can complement all marketing campaigns—search, display, video, mobile, offline ads and more.

With this in mind, today we’re happy to share that the Wildfire team will be joining Google. Their co-founders, Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, launched their startup just four years ago. Since then, they and their team have built a service that helps businesses like Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify manage their social efforts across numerous social websites. It’s a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place.

The ultimate goal is better and fresher content, and more meaningful interactions. People today can make their voices heard in ways that were previously impossible, and Wildfire helps businesses uphold their end of the conversation (or spark a new one).

In a complex and changing landscape, businesses want to manage and measure these efforts in an integrated way. We’ve been working towards this end for some time. For example, Google Analytics helps businesses measure the contribution of hundreds of social sites; our Admeld service has helped to serve ads in Facebook developers’ social apps; and our DoubleClick platform enables clients to run and measure ads across social websites. On Google+, brands use services like Vitrue, Buddy Media and others to manage their pages, with many more to come.

With Wildfire, we’re looking forward to creating new opportunities for our clients to engage with people across all social services. We believe that better content and more seamless solutions will help unlock the full potential of the web for people and businesses.

The Official Google Blog

Over the last 5 years, it’s been great to see how many marketers and publishers have improved the web by using insights from Google Website Optimizer to create better experiences for their visitors. Today, we announced that we’re bringing website testing to Google Analytics. This means that we’ll be saying goodbye to the standalone version as we welcome a fully integrated website testing tool in Google Analytics.

Content Experiments helps you optimize for goals you have already defined in your Google Analytics account, and can help you decide which page designs, layouts and content are most effective. With Content Experiments, you can develop several versions of a page and show different versions to different visitors. Google Analytics measures the efficacy of each page version, and with a new advanced statistical engine, it determines the most effective version.  Take a look at this video to learn more:

Testing and experimentation of websites may sound complicated, but we've worked hard to provide a testing tool that makes it as easy as possible:

  • Content Experiments comes with a setup wizard that walks you step by step through setting up experiments, which helps you quickly launch new tests.
  • Content Experiments reuses Google Analytics tags so that you only need to add one additional tag to the original page.
  • Content Experiments helps you understand which content performs best, and identifies a winner as soon as statistically significant data has been collected.
  • Since content testing is so important, we’ve placed Content Experiments just a click away from your regular diagnosis reports in Google Analytics.

We’re excited to integrate this important functionality into Google Analytics and believe it will help you meet your goals of measuring, testing and optimizing all in one place. With full integration in Google Analytics, we’ll be able to grow and evolve website experimentation tools within our broader measurement platform. Initially, you’ll be able to utilize important features like optimized goal conversions, easier tagging and advanced segmentation in reports. We’re also working hard to release page metrics, additional goal conversion options and experiment suggestions.

The last day you’ll be able to access Google Website Optimizer, and any reports for current or past experiments, will be August 1, 2012. While it won’t be possible to migrate experiments or reports to Google Analytics, up until August 1 you can download your reports to retain your data.  We encourage you to start any new experiments in Content Experiments. For those of you that are new to website experimentation, we hope you’ll try out the new Google Analytics Content Experiments.

This is just the first step we’re taking to simplify website testing, and we look forward to integrating more features into the experimentation framework of Google Analytics.  Content Experiments will be gradually rolling out over the next few weeks to all users. Once available in your account, you can start testing by going to Google Analytics and accessing Experiments within the Content section of your reports. If you’re new to Google Analytics, you can sign up here.

We’ll continue to have a strong network of Google Analytics Certified Partners who will be able to provide advanced support for Analytics, including Content Experiments. If you would like professional assistance in designing, implementing, or interpreting the results of a test, simply go to the Google Analytics Partner page and select "Website Optimizer" from the Specialization menu.  You can also find more information in our help center. Please try out Content Experiments and let us know what you think.

Happy testing!

Posted by Nir Tzemah, Google Analytics team

Google Website Optimizer Blog

Minnesota has long been a state that’s prided itself on its commitment to education. Now the state has taken on the mission of becoming a technology hub as well, setting the goal to become one of the country’s top five technology states by 2020. Last week, we travelled to Minnesota to pilot two new programs designed to help students with an interest in technology get a jump on the job market, and learn directly from Google engineers over Google+ Hangout.

First, we partnered with Teach for America on a classroom mentorship project that pairs Google engineers with middle school science and math classes via Google+ Hangouts. A dozen Googlers paired up with classrooms in Minneapolis/St. Paul last week to introduce a curriculum modelled after Solve for X, Google’s initiative that celebrates technology-based moonshot thinking to solve real-world problems. In the coming weeks, each classroom will chose a big problem to tackle (world hunger, homelessness, climate change, etc.) and develop an innovative technology solution to address it—with help from the Google mentor who will join the classroom via Google+ Hangout for coaching sessions. We think hangouts are a great way to connect Googlers with classrooms far away, and are looking to expand this pilot to other states in the fall.

Google Engineer Selim Onal talks with students at the Minneapolis KIPP Academy about Solve for X

We also kicked off our first-ever youth entrepreneurship training as part of our Google for Entrepreneurs programs. The summit brought together 60 high school students from the Minneapolis STEP-UP program, an effort designed to place students from lower-income communities as interns at Minnesota businesses over the summer. Our goal was to give these students some basic training in Google tools like Docs, Apps, YouTube and Google+ so that they can enter their internships with a better understanding of how technology and the Internet can be of help to them, as well as spark these students with an entrepreneurial drive that will serve them well in these opportunities. After a morning of learning about Google tools, the students broke out into teams to pitch their own business ideas to solve challenges in education, government, transportation and the music industry. A number of mentors from the Minneapolis tech community joined us to help coach the students, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was on hand himself to help get the students started.

Minneapolis STEP-UP students pitch their start-up ideas to address a series of real-world challenges

Science and technology disciplines are projected to add 70,000 jobs to the Minnesota job market by 2019. We hope by partnering with local organizations, we can help give students the inspiration and skills to enter that job market ready to excel.

The Official Google Blog

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