Our 17 favorite education moments from 2017

Editor’s Note: Happy New Year from all of us on the Google for Education team! We know you count on Google for Education in your classrooms, and we take that responsibility seriously. We remain deeply committed to bringing the best of Google to education, and to expanding learning for everyone. As we look to the year ahead, we’re looking back on our 17 favorite moments from 2017.

In 2017, we…

1. Did an hour of code with Chance the Rapper for Computer Science Education Week, surprising a Chicago classroom and announcing a $1.5 million Google.org grant to provide CS for students across Chicago Public Schools. We also released the first-ever programmable Google Doodle and invited students to code their own Google logos.

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2. Announced a new initiative called Grow with Google which provides access to digital tools and training for students, teachers, job-seekers and lifelong learners. As part of the announcement, our CEO Sundar Pichai visited one of the Pittsburgh classrooms participating in our new Dynamic Learning Project, a pilot that empowers educators to use technology in meaningful ways.

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As part of Grow with Google, our CEO Sundar visited a school in Pittsburgh to learn about their experience participating in the Dynamic Learning Project

3. Introduced a new generation of Chromebooks that let you use a stylus and flip from laptop to tablet mode. These Chromebooks have cameras on two sides and USB-C charging. New devices from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and Lenovo come in all shapes, sizes, and price points to meet the needs of different teachers, students, schools and districts.

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A next generation Chromebook with dual camera flipped into tablet mode.

4. Went back to school with a new resource hub for teachers. On #FirstDayOfClassroom, there’s helpful Google for Education tips and tricks from the people who know our tools the best—educators. Thanks to input from our dedicated community, we were also able to introduce the most-requested features in Google Classroom and Forms.

5. Met the Internaut, a digital citizenship guru and mascot of Be Internet Awesome, a program to help students make smart decisions online. With resources for students (including the online game Interland), educators, and families, everyone has the tools to learn and participate in digital safety and citizenship. Bonus: we also launched a Digital Citizenship and Safety course.

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6. Celebrated International Literacy Day by creating and translating more than 1,000 children’s books for StoryWeaver, a Google.org grantee, with the #1000books campaign. Our support of Storyweaver is part of our 2016-2017 $50 million philanthropic commitment to nonprofit organizations working to close global learning gaps.

7. Were inspired by more than 11,000 girls from 103 countries during the Technovation Challenge. Finalists came to Google’s Mountain View headquarters to pitch their projects, which address issues in categories including peace, poverty, environment, equality, education, and health.

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Our CEO Sundar Pichai takes a selfie with members of the winning team behind QamCare

8. Used technology to amplify student stories. Working with the non-profit 826 Valencia, Googlers helped under-resourced students create A Planet Ruled by Love using Tilt Brush. The result was a virtual reality movie that helped kids express themselves through storytelling and technology.

826 Valencia and Google

826 Valencia and Google

The #MyFutureMe winner is often the only girl—but she’s going to change that

Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Made with Code teamed up with Snap Inc. to host #MyFutureMe, a competition for teens to code their own Snapchat geofilters and write their vision for the future. 22,000 teens submitted designs and shared their visions, and Zoe Lynch—a ninth-grader from South Orange, NJ—was recently named the winner by a panel of judges, including Malala Yousafzai, Lilly Singh, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and our own CFO Ruth Porat. We chatted with Zoe about her experience, how she made her filter, and why it’s important for more girls to get into coding.

What was the inspiration behind your filter?

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The brain has fascinated me since I was younger—it’s where creativity and ideas come from so I wanted to use that. The coding project had peace signs, so I had the idea to manipulate the peace signs to look like a brain. The idea for my filter was what can happen when everyone puts their brain power together. When we do that, we are unstoppable.

After you became a finalist, you attended TEDWomen. What was that like?

It was crazy inspiring. It showed me how many powerful and cool women are out there opening paths for girls like me. I got to meet the other finalists, and we created a group chat on Snap, so that we can follow each other and stay connected. We’ve been each other’s biggest cheerleaders. All these girls are going to do awesome things. Tech mogul alert!

How did you feel when you found out that you were selected as the final winner?

I couldn’t believe it! Everyone was so talented and worked hard, but I was so happy that my ideas and creativity were recognized. To win a trip to visit Google and Snapchat was like a dream!

What advice do you have for other girls who want to learn how to code?

I know a lot of girls who think they’re not good at this kind of stuff, but most of them haven’t even tried it. So you have to try it because otherwise you won’t know if you’ll like it. I loved #MyFutureMe because teens are really into Snapchat and the different filters you can use. When you have an opportunity to make a filter, you realize that coding is behind it all.

My vision for the future is one where innovation is accessible to all. As a multiracial girl, I believe it’s important for everyone to be included.

Excerpt from Zoe’s vision for the future

You care a lot about inclusion—have you faced situations when inclusion has been a challenge?

When I go to camps or explore things in the engineering field, I’m often the only girl and the only person of color. Usually all the guys go together and it’s kind of discouraging, but I want to try to change that for other girls, so we don’t have to feel this way anymore.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I love to play video games—my favorite is “Uncharted”—but many of them are not really targeted to women. For women, the game is fun but you know deep down that it’s not really made for you. If I was going to make a video game, it would be an engineering game but you’re helping people. Say you want to build a bridge in the game, you’d need to use mathematics and engineering to make it work.

Who are your role models?

My mom. Hands down. She’s a Hispanic woman and and there are only white males at her level at her company, which is where my passion for inclusion started. She’s also pushed me and has always supported me.

You recently visited Snapchat and Google. What was the coolest part of the tour?

Beside the amazing offices (free food!), the coolest part was meeting the engineers. I was so inspired by their journeys and how different they all were. One was an actress, the other a gamer and the other wasn’t even sure of her major until she took her first CS class in college. It showed me that there are many paths to getting into tech.

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Zoe on her tour at Snapchat in Venice, CA.

If you could have any job at Google, what would it be?

I’d want to be an engineer in artificial intelligence—I think that technology and machine learning could change the world. I’d like to see more women and people of color in the field, too.

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Zoe chats with an engineer at Google.

What do you think the future will look like when you’re 30?

I’m hoping that in the future, everyone works together. And it’ll be cool to live through new technology breakthroughs!

The She Word: Kawana T. King, lawyer and “force for good”

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.

In this installment of the She Word, we talked to Kawana T. King, a lawyer in our New York office. In addition to JD, she’s earned the title of “hostess with the mostess”—just ask anyone who’s attended her annual Christmas party.

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I usually don’t … I like leaving work at work. But if I need to explain, I say that I provide legal counsel for our advertising products.

Why are you proud to be a woman at Google?

In Google’s legal department, we have four female vice presidents. There’s a lot of talk in tech about needing more women in leadership positions, but I get to witness that everyday. It’s really inspiring.

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Why did you decide to pursue law, and why practice it at Google?

Growing up I was always told that I argued too much, so becoming a lawyer seemed to be a “natural fit.” Throughout my career, I’ve practiced law across various industries, like entertainment and financial services. Working at Google, I get to bring legal expertise to the development of groundbreaking products and services. And one of the best parts about Google is that I’m not just here to be a lawyer—there are opportunities to pursue personal interests, like our diversity efforts, as well.

If you could ask one woman from history a question … who would it be and what would you ask?

I would ask Harriet Tubman what gave her the strength to face her fears and take action. We are all faced with obstacles that we must overcome, but it’s hard to get past the intimidation. All tips help!

What advice would you give to women starting out in their careers?

Know your worth, display confidence and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you doubt yourself, you invite others to do the same.

What do you hope to accomplish on behalf of women everywhere?

Quite simply … I’ll pay it forward. I’ve been lucky to have powerful and positive female influences in my life (hi Mom!). By exhibiting character, confidence, and a strong work ethic, I hope to be a force for good in another young girl’s life.

How do you spend most of your time outside of work?

I love traveling—Paris and Thailand are my all-time favorite spots. I’ve also gotten hooked on traveling for Carnival, which is an annual festival that occurs in various countries. So far, I’ve celebrated Carnival in  Trinidad, Barbados and Miami. My next trip is to Italy—I’m taking my mom for her 65th birthday!