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CERN | Geneva | Switzerland

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Google Science Fair: encouraging creativity and curiosity

Google is launching today the second edition of its Science Fair in partnership with CERN, Lego, National Geographic and Scientific American. The goal is to encourage 13 to18 year-old students from all over the world to not only ask good questions but also devise a way to find an answer to these questions.

Today, it has nearly become a reflex: if you want to know what flowers bloom in the snow or how to get rid of bats or what inverse Compton scattering refers too, you just Google it. Thanks to countless people who have put effort in documenting every aspect of human knowledge, be it on Wikipedia or their own website, search engines will find it. With the internet, knowledge is now available just about everywhere on the planet, provided one has access to a computer and a network.

But much remains to be understood about the way the world and its inhabitants work. Behind each piece of knowledge hide some inquisitive people who initially asked the question and set out to find an answer to it. Curiosity has driven much scientific and technical development over the years, when necessity was not the main impetus. In all cases, some form of the scientific method was used to get to the answer: ask a question, formulate a hypothesis, design a way to test this hypothesis, analyze the data or information gathered and draw conclusions. By iterating this process and with a good dose of determination, scientists progress in their quest for an answer.

Pushing the limits of knowledge further is at the centre of CERN’s mission. So it is not surprising that CERN is associated to this major science fair. And don’t forget, it was at CERN that the world wide web was invented.

By encouraging young people to be creative, science fairs worldwide create a reflex among people to question the world they live in, to be critical of information received and draw their own conclusions based on evidence.

As the participants in the first edition of the Google Science Fair testify, like Harine from India, their experience was unique and memories will last a lifetime. So get the word out, support science fairs at all levels and encourage the young people you know to enter this contest.

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