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Last year Google launched the first online global Science Fair, an event that took the traditional science fair out of the school gymnasium and put it onto the Web. The event was by all measures a great success -- with some 10,000 students from over 90 countries submitting their science projects.

So Google's doing it again this year, launching its second Google Global Science Fair today.

And Google is taking that "global" adjective seriously too, this year allowing students to submit their projects in 13 different languages (last year, the submissions were accepted in English only). 90 regional finalists will be selected -- 30 from the Americas, 30 from Europe and Africa and 30 from Asia. It's about "guaranteeing more global coverage," says Maggie Johnson, Google Director of Education and a Google Science Fair judge.

There's also a new prize this year: a "Science in Action" award. Sponsored by Scientific American, the award will go to a project that addresses "a social, environmental or health issue to make a practical difference in the lives of a group or community." The award comes with a $50,000 cash prize and a year of mentorship.

As with last year's science fair, Google has gathered a prestigious panel of judges, including Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf and particle physicist and Nobel Prize winner David Gross. And like last year, all the awards are pretty phenomenal: the grand prize is a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos lead by a National Geographic Explorer, a hands-on internship at Google, CERN or LEGO, access to the Scientific American archives for their school and a personalized LEGO trophy. (Two other finalists will each receive $25,000 scholarships, access to the Scientific American archives, and a LEGO trophy.)

The Google Science Fair is open to students age 13 to 18. Students can submit their projects through April 1.

Tune in to MindShift tomorrow(ish), when I'll have a longer story about why Google's Science Fair matters -- for Google, for the future of science fairs and STEM education, and for girls.

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Audrey Watters


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