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Surfs Up in the Google Science Fair

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Editor’s Note: The first ever Google Science Fair launched in January and we are excited to hear the feedback from students, teachers and schools about their projects. Here we share the Google Science Fair story of Mr. Miller and his students at the Falcon International School in Costa Rica.

The Falcon International School is an independent international school located in Garabito County, Costa Rica. With students from countries around the world, the Falcon International School aims to “develop a global understanding of education and citizenship” in its students. As part of this goal, students maintain constant communication with one another via the internet, have regular real-time video conferences with students abroad and participate in international student competitions like the Google Science Fair.

Mr. Miller and his students at the Falcon International School are taking their Google Science Fair projects somewhere few science fair projects have been before: into the blue waters and clean surf breaks of Costa Rica’s pacific coast! As an avid surfer, Mr. Miller originally came to Costa Rica to study primates in the country’s diverse tropical rain forests during grad school. After falling in love with the country’s sunny climate, warm people and pristine surf breaks, he decided to stay to teach full time and combine his passions for science and surfing.

Mr. Miller’s students may come from different countries around the world, but they share his passion for scientific inquiry and his love of the ocean. Many of the experiments that his students are planning take advantage of their school’s proximity to the pristine waters of Costa Rica’s Pacific shore. One group of students are using GPS and accelerometer data from a surfboard mounted smartphone to track speed and acceleration during their surf sessions. Other students are experimenting with sea water desalinization in order to turn ocean water into drinkable fresh water.

Mr. Miller’s students hope that their experiments will not only deepen their own understanding of Costa Rica’s rich natural resources, but also inspire students around the world to care about issues like ocean preservation and procuring clean drinking water for in-need populations.

Because the Google Science Fair is online, these students in Costa Rica are able to enter the competition and compete with other students around the world. Mr. Miller’s students are excited about using the web-based tools, the prospect of incorporating video into their projects and the chance to compete internationally. As Mr. Miller explains, the idea that “a little school in Costa Rica gets to compete with schools from North America, Asia, Africa and all over the world is very exciting for my students”.

Mr. Miller’s students will join students from more than 150 countries around the world who have registered to compete in the Google Science Fair.

Do you have a Google Science Fair story that you would like to share with us? If so, please fill out this form and tell us your Google Science Fair story.

Posted by Alex Roux, Google Edu Marketing