Google launched its global science fair at King Plow Arts Center on Atlanta’s west side Thursday.
About a hundred students from Atlanta Public Schools attended the event. Students all over the world can submit their projects online until Dec. 12.
Entrants are asked to apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to solve real-world problems. Past winners include projects that make rockets more efficient, detect lung cancer earlier and improve safety for Alzheimer’s patients.
Brianna Jones, a senior at Benjamin E. Mays High School, plans to submit a project that would cure Type 1 diabetes.
“Right now, I’m creating micro-capsules, using alginate, and the micro-capsules will be used to protect the pancreatic eyelets, which secretes insulin for Type 1 diabetics, and it will protect them, and allow them to function normally,” she said.
She has already done some research through an internship where she works with a mentor from Georgia Tech.
Osazi Alkhaliq, a senior at Maynard H. Jackson High School, was part of a team that won recognition at last year’s fair.
“Our project was based off extracting fat from school lunches and comparing the amount of fat in school lunches to different restaurants,” he said. “We were able to prove that actually school lunch was healthier in the amount of fat — specifically saturated fat — that we were being fed compared to other restaurants.”
Alkhaliq, who is also a debate champion, says he may want to enter a scientific profession. But the adults in attendance told students they’ll develop problem-solving skills studying STEM that they can apply to any career field.
‘It’s All About Critical Thinking’
State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, said he majored in physics in college, even though he was more interested in the humanities. Setzler, who chairs the House Science and Technology Committee, says the decision has paid off.
“Sitting in the Judiciary Committee at the state Capitol, talking through criminal laws, the structured thinking that science engages and really creates puts you in a unique position to wrestle with things like a law that I would have never had had I gotten a different kind of degree,” he said.
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen went to college on an engineering scholarship. She said she still uses what she learned in math and science classes.
“It’s all about critical thinking, the rigor,” she said. “I think that math and science and higher sciences help a lot in giving you grit in problem-solving, whether it’s in the space of STEM or outside of the space of STEM.”
Google will announce the science fair winners this spring. The overall winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship.
A note of disclosure: The Atlanta Board of Education holds WABE’s broadcast license.