Meet The Top 15 Finalists In Google’s Annual Science Fair

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The annual Google Science Fair is an effort to encourage young people from all over the world to think about what’s next. Whether it’s in health, ecology, or entrepreneurship, Google has been doing its part to turn the spotlight onto an international group of youngsters who are doing just that.

Today, Google announced the 15 finalists of this year’s Science Fair, a group of young scientists whose projects are tackling a variety of real world problems, from helping those with hearing loss enjoy music to telemedicine and bringing water purification systems to the masses.

The final group of 15 has been selected from a group of 90 regional finalists, with the chosen few receiving word in a Google+ Hangout session this morning.

For those unfamiliar, the Google Science Fair is an international online science competition in which individual students (or groups of three) between 13 and 18 can submit their most innovative ideas in pursuit of the “Science In Action” prize. The competition asks students to complete a “scientific investigation into a real world problem or issue,” and carry out their investigation from experimentation, recording of the results, and a conclusion. Students are then asked to submit their ideas (showing their work, of course) and leave the rest in the hands of the judges.

The winners were broken down into three age categories: 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18. You can see the winners below and find out more about their projects here. The U.S. was represented by the most finalists, with seven in all, backed by three students from India, and one each from Swasiland, Ukraine, Spain, Malta, and Canada. Surprisingly, after the girls cleaned up last year, winning top prizes in each of the age categories, the boys fared better this year, with fifteen in total, compared to six young ladies.

As to what’s next? In July, all fifteen finalists will get to head to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, where they will present their projects to a panel of judges, competing for the final prize. Top honors include $100K in scholarship funds, a chance to check out 100-year-old tortoises in the Galapagos, among others. The winners will be announced on July 23rd, streamed live over YouTube.

Google also announced that Scientific American awarded a special “Science in Action” prize to a “project that addresses a social, environmental, ethical, health or welfare issue to make a practical difference to the lives of a group or community.” Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela from Swaziland claimed the top prize for their project, which develops an “affordable way to provide hydroponics to poor subsistence farmers.” On top of $50,000 in prize funds, the winners are receiving access to a year’s mentorship “to explore how their project can help the lives of subsistence farmers in Swaziland and around the world.” (The pair are also still in the running for the age category and grand prizes.)

Way to go, young scientists. Makin’ the world proud.

Winners below:

Age 13 – 14
Sumit Singh, India
Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela, Swaziland
Alexy Klozkov and Milena Klimenko, Ukraine
Martin Schneider and Joshua Li, USA
Jonah Kohn, USA

Age 15 – 16
Rohit Fenn, India
Iván Hervías Rodríguez, Marcos Ochoa and Sergio Pascua, Spain
Sabera Talukder, USA
Catherine Wong, USA
Kimberley Yu and Phillip Yu, USA

Age 17 – 18
Yassine Bouanane, Canada
Raghavendra Ramachanderan, India
Melvin Zammit, Malta
Brittany Wenger, USA
Yamini Naidu, USA