Science Fair

The official source for information about Google's Science Fair

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The Experience of a Lifetime

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Editors notes: We invited Katrina Guido, age 15, a freshman at Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania and one of our Google Science Fair semi finalists, to write a blog post about the encouragement she received from her biology teacher to enter the Google Science Fair and what she learned from this experience. Katrina is actively involved in many of the opportunities her school offers including Biology Olympics and Olympiad, her school newspaper, and the tennis team.

When my biology teacher, Mr. Keith Butler, presented my class with the opportunity to compete in the Google Science Fair, I thought it would be just another science competition. Traditionally, my school district requires honors students to complete an in-depth experiment, and then teachers are supposed to encourage students to participate in competitions which require a prepared presentation with overheads or an informal interview and trifold board.

I am thankful Mr. Butler encouraged all competitions using various methods of presentations and that he offered us this specific opportunity. Not every teacher would take the time to search out the numerous competitions that he had.

I was intrigued by the idea of using a new method of presentation for the Google Fair because well, lets face it, printing off overheads without smudging them requires a special gift. I loved the idea of using a website to present because the web is something with which I as a student am very familiar and can easily use.

As I researched further and further as to what the Google Science Fair was, it dawned on me. Here was an opportunity to share my data with scientists from all over the globe. The judges were people who had received a different and more in depth educations than I, but still shared my enthusiastic love of science. Just to have the ability to share my data with them was awe-inspiring.

Once I found out that my project had been chosen for the semi-final round, I was shocked. To be chosen as one of 60 out of over 7,500 was spectacular.

The smile on my teacher's face made the experience even better. Mr. Butler sent the link to vote for the People's Choice Award to just about everyone he knew and even a few people he didn't. The most prominent memory in my mind is of when he took the students (including me) to the state competition of the Junior Academy of Science. Wherever he went, whoever he met, he was proud to tell them to vote for his student who was a semi-finalist in the Google Science Fair. I heard feedback from so many people in my community who I had never known had such a prominent interest in science.

My experiment was purposely rather unorthodox. After having sat in a room for three hours listening to basically the same project testing vitamin C about six or so times, one starts to see all of the challenges that no one seems to know how to overcome, such as a lack of quantitative data. Basically, I wanted to fix previous errors but still keep the experiment rather simple, so I built a photospectrometer out of a card board box, an LED pen light, and a Lego robotics unit to measure the difference in color shade of a vitamin C color-indicator test.

I am always asked why I chose to use a Lego instead of an actual light meter and well, to put it plainly, that would have been boring, and not everyone has access to a traditional light meter. When formulating my method, I remembered the time my family went to Lego Land and programmed Lego robots to follow a black line and find and push foam balls into a bucket. The unit used to sense the black lines was obviously sensing a difference in light and this just so happened to apply to my experiment.

Mr. Butler is retiring this year and to be able to credit him with introducing me to this opportunity and with providing me with the knowledge, support, and independence needed to design my experiment is the best retirement gift I could hope to offer. Thanks to him my passion for science is stronger than ever. Thanks in part to him and also the other amazing projects which reached the semi-final round, I have already started thinking about my project for next year. I was inspired to begin searching for a laboratory with which I can work in order to conduct more in-depth research because I want to use science to improve the world.

Participating in the Google Science Fair has given me the ability to share my data and knowledge with the world and to view the ideas of other teenage science enthusiasts from different countries. Google has given me the opportunity of a lifetime and for that I am thankful.

Katrina Guido