You probably already use Google daily, either for Web searches, email, or maps. The tech company is increasingly involved in modernizing education, and it has developed several ventures to encourage an interest in science and computer programming. Some of these ventures are contests, and some are designed for use by afterschool or summer programs. But you can access this great content even if you don’t officially participate in a program. Many of these activities use art, music, and social awareness to make technical lessons more appealing. Take a look at these activities, and start thinking outside the little Google search box.
With this worldwide contest, Google has thought far beyond the high school gymnasium science fair that we all know. Even if your students won’t officially enter, Google has compiled a lot of great resources for middle and high school science students. Find lesson plans to teach students about scientific inquiry and the scientific method. The Idea Springboard can help students find a project that fits their interests and talents. And the Resources page provides links to science news and education sites.
The Made with Code project is designed to show girls that coding is cool. Students can watch inspirational videos from women and girls who are changing their communities with code. The coding projects let students mix music, build an avatar, or even design a yeti. With work like that, the boys might be jealous. They can use the site, too, of course.
Google holds an annual contest for students who want their own Google design to be the logo for a day. The contest is for grades K-12 and is broken into age groups. The contest page also includes classroom activities to teach children how to brainstorm, critique the efforts of other students, and create their best work.
Google’s goal with CS First is to foster computer clubs that teach students to code. Google provides the coding activities free online, so students can use them even without a club. Students can create video games, animation, interactive stories, and more. The activities are designed for older elementary and middle school students but could work for slightly older and younger kids as well.
If you want to incorporate Google tools in your classroom but have questions, start here. Find a Google Educator Group near you or one you can connect with remotely. You will meet other teachers interested in technology and innovation who can collaborate with you, offer advice, and inform you of training opportunities. Talking to another teacher can be much more insightful than simply typing your question into — yes — Google.
Google originally got its name from the word googol — an enormous number. And those Google employees seem to have an enormous number of ideas. In the past few years, the company has tried a bunch of education initiatives. Some have stuck. Some haven’t. So while you’re exploring these options, remember to check in every few months at the Google education site to see what’s new.
Editor’s note: This article is a revision and combination of several older Edudemic articles, updated and re-analyzed to reflect the latest innovations.