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webpick of the week

Google Science Fair

Education, Public Service

The Idea Springboard was the centerpiece of the campaign for the 2014 Google Science Fair, a global online competition open to teenaged students, who are invited to change the world with a science project. It’s a terrific opportunity, but a daunting one—asking someone to change the world and handing them a blank sheet of paper is tough for anyone and even harder for teens, who don’t have a whole lot of life experience to draw from. The Idea Springboard is a simple search tool that helps potential Science Fair entrants figure out where to start by considering the factors that defined winning projects in the past. None of those winning ideas began in a science lab. They started with each student’s unique interests and talents and an issue that was close to their heart. The Idea Springboard helps guide Science Fair entrants to those kinds of ideas by asking them to input a passion, an issue they care about and something they’re good at. The site generates search results that are starting points for potential science projects. The site was a collaborative effort by Google Creative Lab in London, which lead creative and concept development, and London-based digital production studio Weir+Wong, which handled production. The team refined the search algorithm over and over again to come up the perfect blend of relevant content drawn from reputable science sources from across the web, whether that was a blog post on Scientific American, a relevant patent or a YouTube video about the science of subjects from skateboarding to sustainable living. Because the results are tailored to the user’s location and are constantly refreshed with live content, the site will continue to surprise users with new, personalized facts and ideas every time they visit.