Category Archives: Google for Education Blog

The official source for information about Google’s education-related efforts

Coding for Conservation

Working on the CS First team, I love finding ways to get more kids involved with computer science at a young age. Though when I was a kid growing up in Miami, I spent most of my time off computers and on the water, admiring the natural beauty of the surrounding beaches and mangrove forests.

I focused my studies and spare time on the environment, and how we could protect and preserve the habitats and creatures that made my home so special. I didn’t quite understand how coding and technology would further my goal of protecting the environment until I got to Google, where I’ve learned that computer science is actually a critical tool for conservation and sustainability.

Sarah Henderson_CS First.png

Sarah has a BA in Environmental Studies from NYU and is pictured here in Belize on a sea turtle tagging and monitoring project with Google.

To help more kids understand the connection between coding and the environment (and to celebrate Earth Day!) we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to invite students in grades 4-8 to create their own Google logo. Using Scratch, a block-based programming language, students will learn basic coding and stretch their design skills as they express their own ideas for protecting the planet.

To get ready to create their logo, students can watch videos to learn computer science concepts like sequencing and loops, practice analytical thinking and use creative problem solving skills. Those concepts and skills are the building blocks for developing technology that organizations like WWF and Google use in their efforts to protect the planet’s animals and natural environment. In fact, the themes of the logo activity—Sustainability and Wild Animals— were chosen to reflect those efforts.

I have long admired WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce threats to animals all over the world—they recently launched Wild Classroom, a free resource for educators to teach their students about the natural world. And as a Googler, I’m proud of the work our company has done to protect the environment: we’re committed to renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency, and have built free data tools to enable widespread solutions to issues like deforestation, overfishing and air pollution.

My hope is that this logo activity will show kids that learning to code can also mean protecting the environment. And this activity is for teachers, too. Along with CS First’s full curriculum, it gives teachers the tools they need to introduce computer science to students for the first time, as well as nurture students’ interest in computer science.

Source: Education


How the Dynamic Learning Project is building teacher confidence

Editor’s note: Last summer, we announced Google’s support of the Dynamic Learning Project—a pilot program from Digital Promise that places technology coaches in 50 high-need schools across the country. Educator coaching has been shown to be effective in subjects like reading and math, but the Dynamic Learning Project is one of the first nationwide programs to apply this approach to the impactful use of technology across subjects. We checked in with one of the 50 schools participating in the program to see how things are going.


When Hillsdale Middle School principal Jacob Launder learned about the Dynamic Learning Project, he jumped at the opportunity to transform how his teachers use technology in the classroom.


Principal Launder had already invested in Hillsdale’s classroom tech and had a community of educators who wanted to build their skills, but many of his teachers lacked the confidence to really make a change in their classrooms. Luckily, he had the perfect person in mind to become a coach and lead this transformation: Ann Mason, a 30-year veteran history teacher in the Cajon Valley School District.


Thanks to her participation in the Dynamic Learning Project, Ann has extensive access to tech-coaching experts, custom resources and tools to guide her support for teachers, and a community of fellow coaches to share best practices.


“The Dynamic Learning Project presented the perfect avenue to support change,” Ann says. “It recognizes that every teacher is innovating at a different level, and the new coaching model allows me to meet that teacher at their level.”


At the beginning of each eight-week coaching cycle, Ann meets with teachers across the school to understand their needs and how she can best support them. As the teachers implement new technology in their lessons, Ann observes their progress and provides regular feedback so they can continue to improve.


Less than a year later, Ann’s in-person, relevant, and consistent technology coaching has helped Hillsdale instructors build confidence in using technology to prepare students. For example, science teacher Carol Strampfer wanted a better way to organize her seventh graders’ written and digital projects so she could track their progress throughout the year. Working closely with Ann, she helped her students use Google Slides to build digital notebooks featuring images of assignments, photos of labs, and more.


“I had wanted to implement this type of system for quite some time, and being part of the Dynamic Learning Project provided the push I needed as well as the support,” Carol says. “Ann helped me work out the minor glitches and supported me in incorporating my own ideas.”


For Ann, the most rewarding moments take place inside the classroom, when she’s helping a teacher introduce a new activity they’ve planned together. “If there’s a tech glitch or a student asks a question that the teacher can’t answer, I jump in to help them move past the bump in the lesson and on to success,” she explains. “I've had numerous teachers tell me they might have given up if I wasn't in the room with them.”


“The Dynamic Learning Project has given me the courage to be more adventurous in my approach to teaching,” says Elizabeth Cordle, who teaches eighth-grade science. “I have the opportunity to explore new technologies in a safe, supportive way.”


Ultimately, the goal of the program is to help students engage with learning, and Principal Launder has seen how the Dynamic Learning Project has been transformative for the Hillsdale community. “The positive impact on teacher creativity and problem-solving can be seen by the dynamic products our students are creating in their classes,” he says. “They’re being provided the opportunity to work collaboratively with their peers on engaging and creative projects.”


These early results affirm that in order to truly unlock the technology’s potential impact in the classroom, teachers must feel supported and confident while learning new tools. As their students turn to them for assistance, answers, and encouragement, Hillsdale teachers now have their own coach to help them thrive.

To stay updated about the Dynamic Learning Project, sign up for updates from Digital Promise.

Source: Education


Zendaya and Google.org help a community school bloom

In 2015, Roses in Concrete Community School opened in East Oakland, California. With a name inspired by a book of poetry written by Tupac Shakur, the school aims to create a model for urban education that prioritizes the needs of youth and families in the community it serves. It’s founder, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, believes education is the way to help young people understand that they can transform not only their community, but the world. By creating the conditions for our youngest change-makers to flourish, this education model can be a pathway to building healthy and sustainable communities across the U.S.

In the school’s first year, Google.org provided $750,000 to help launch its unique vision. And last Friday at Google’s San Francisco community space, teachers, students, artists, education advocates, Googlers and Oakland-native actress Zendaya celebrated the announcement of our additional $650,000 grant to help the school build a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) curriculum, which will serve as a model for other schools across the U.S. The curriculum will be culturally and community relevant, building on Duncan-Andrade’s philosophy that education shouldn’t push students out of communities, but should instead help students transform them.

Research shows that Black and Latino students are interested in learning CS, but are underrepresented in the field due to limited access to learning opportunities, coupled with the lack of relatable role models. Through this new program, Roses in Concrete helps students see the connection between CS and their communities, and hopes to equip them with the skills they need to solve real problems, starting in their own neighborhood.

The purpose of education is not to escape poverty, but to end it. Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade
Founder of Roses in Concrete Community School

During the evening’s events, Roses students shared dance, art, and poetry performances for the crowd, which included Zendaya, an avid supporter of the school. Growing up in Oakland as the daughter of two teachers, she has fond memories of spending time in the same classrooms that now make up the Roses in Concrete campus, and credits pretending to grade papers as some of her earliest acting experience. During a student-led interview, Zendaya shared her appreciation for organizations like this progressive community school that are thoughtfully closing equity divides in her hometown. She encouraged the students to “Always lead with your heart and chase the happiness that fuels you,” and reminded them that technology is one possible medium for them to express themselves and make a positive difference.

As a lab school, Roses in Concrete will share this new curriculum with national school leaders, policy makers and researchers. And alongside Roses, we can identify more ways to provide meaningful CS experiences to students of color, and by doing so, provide pathways for them to grow, thrive, and create change—in their own communities, and around the world.

Source: Education


OK Go makes some noise in the classroom

Editor’s Note: Many of us on Google’s Science Journal team are huge fans of OK Go, the popular rock and YouTube sensation. Their music videos are a spectacular blend of science, engineering, and creativity—a great formula for engaging classroom activities. So when professor AnnMarie Thomas approached us about the OK Go Sandbox, a collection of materials for K-12 educators, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. OK Go frontman Damian Kulash tells us more in this guest post.

I’m always so proud and excited when I hear from a teacher who uses an OK Go music video in the classroom, and over the years, I’ve heard it more and more frequently—from pre-school teachers to grad school professors. We know our videos are joyful and nerdy (we’ve done a Rube Goldberg machine and a dance in zero gravity, for instance), but we didn’t plan them for the classroom environment. It’s a wonderful surprise to hear they’re sneaking in there on their own, and we want to support that in any way we can.

Last year I met Dr. AnnMarie Thomas, who leads the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Together we brainstormed ways to open up our videos for classrooms, and we set up a survey to ask educators for their ideas. Within just a few days, nearly a thousand teachers sent us their thoughts, and, with support from Google, we took this feedback and together developed our new OK Go Sandbox. It’s a collection of materials created for and with K-12 educators: design challenges, educator guides, and more.

170924mde084_002.jpg
Here’s Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and me meeting with teachers to go over OK Go Sandbox materials.

It was especially cool to work with Google’s Science Journal team to develop tools that allow students to explore the world around them through music. Their new pitch detection feature makes it possible to make sounds using glasses of water (like we did in the Rube Goldberg machine for “This Too Shall Pass”, and in the musical performance of a robotic car for “Needing/Getting”), and there’s now an option to play data values as pitches which lets students use their phone’s sensors to compose new sounds and interpret their data in a new way.

OK Go Sandbox - Surrounding Sounds

So whether we’re exploring frame rates by making flip books, or using a light sensor to make music (with Google’s Science Journal app), we hope that the challenges in the OK Go Sandbox help stoke curiosity and encourage learning through joy and wonder. And we particularly look forward to learning more from educators as this stuff gets into the world.


Educators! Please reach out to us at hello@OKGoSandbox.orgwith your input and ideas so that we can grow and adapt this to be maximally useful in inspiring your students. The best part of a sandbox is that we can try building lots of new things, even if we occasionally have to knock some things down and start over.

Source: Education


OK Go makes some noise in the classroom

Editor’s Note: Many of us on Google’s Science Journal team are huge fans of OK Go, the popular rock and YouTube sensation. Their music videos are a spectacular blend of science, engineering, and creativity—a great formula for engaging classroom activities. So when professor AnnMarie Thomas approached us about the OK Go Sandbox, a collection of materials for K-12 educators, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. OK Go frontman Damian Kulash tells us more in this guest post.

I’m always so proud and excited when I hear from a teacher who uses an OK Go music video in the classroom, and over the years, I’ve heard it more and more frequently—from pre-school teachers to grad school professors. We know our videos are joyful and nerdy (we’ve done a Rube Goldberg machine and a dance in zero gravity, for instance), but we didn’t plan them for the classroom environment. It’s a wonderful surprise to hear they’re sneaking in there on their own, and we want to support that in any way we can.

Last year I met Dr. AnnMarie Thomas, who leads the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Together we brainstormed ways to open up our videos for classrooms, and we set up a survey to ask educators for their ideas. Within just a few days, nearly a thousand teachers sent us their thoughts, and, with support from Google, we took this feedback and together developed our new OK Go Sandbox. It’s a collection of materials created for and with K-12 educators: design challenges, educator guides, and more.

170924mde084_002.jpg
Here’s Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and me meeting with teachers to go over OK Go Sandbox materials.

It was especially cool to work with Google’s Science Journal team to develop tools that allow students to explore the world around them through music. Their new pitch detection feature makes it possible to make sounds using glasses of water (like we did in the Rube Goldberg machine for “This Too Shall Pass”, and in the musical performance of a robotic car for “Needing/Getting”), and there’s now an option to play data values as pitches which lets students use their phone’s sensors to compose new sounds and interpret their data in a new way.

OK Go Sandbox - Surrounding Sounds

So whether we’re exploring frame rates by making flip books, or using a light sensor to make music (with Google’s Science Journal app), we hope that the challenges in the OK Go Sandbox help stoke curiosity and encourage learning through joy and wonder. And we particularly look forward to learning more from educators as this stuff gets into the world.


Educators! Please reach out to us at hello@OKGoSandbox.orgwith your input and ideas so that we can grow and adapt this to be maximally useful in inspiring your students. The best part of a sandbox is that we can try building lots of new things, even if we occasionally have to knock some things down and start over.

Source: Education


Get inspired: three weeks left to submit artwork for Doodle 4 Google

It’s been over ten years since I began doodling for Google and I’ve never been more excited about what’s coming up for our ever-changing logo.

We know that young artists inspire us, so for the 10th annualDoodle 4 Google contest, we’re asking them to answer the question “What inspires you?” (in the form of a Google logo, of course). In a super exciting first, this year’s winner will work directly with the Doodle team to transform their art into an interactive doodle for millions to see and play.

Past winners have exhibited incredible creativity and charm—the hyper-imaginative, environmentally conscious world of 2014’s U.S. winner Audrey Zhang is a personal favorite, as is Robot Tom, the star of 2017’s winning Irish entry by Erica Redmon—and I have no doubt this year’s entries will continue to inspire.

Picking a winner is always the hardest part. Luckily, we have some stellar guest judges to help, including actor Neil Patrick Harris, gold-medalist Laurie Hernandez, actor Ty Burrell of "Modern Family," Ibtihaj Muhammad from the U.S. Fencing Team, former Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Beltrán, 2017 National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee, and award winning journalist Elaine Welteroth.

d4g

As for prizes, five finalists will be invited to Google’s Mountain View headquarters and one winner will receive:

• A $30,000 scholarship

• A $50,000 technology package for their school/non-profit organization

• And, as mentioned, a behind-the-scenes collaboration with the Doodle team to transform their doodle
  into an interactive experience that will launch this year on our homepage and app home screen

Submissions close on March 2—only three weeks away. Every K-12 student is encouraged to enter their doodle at doodle4google.com.

Please encourage every young artist you know to participate. ❤🎨

Source: Education


Resources for families to make choices about online safety

When I was a kid, my family couldn’t afford a computer, so I’d only get to use one in my father’s office, for a few minutes at a time. When I was a little older, we got a computer at school—one computer, for the entire school—and I was able to spend a bit more time with a PC.


Fast forward to 2018, my daughter is walking around her middle school with a computer in her pocket that enables her to connect to the internet and use apps at any time. Even as a parent at a tech company, it’s hard to believe that this has become the norm: Most kids get a smartphone by the time they are 10 years old, and more than 77 percent of kids 6-12 years old are using them on a weekly basis.


The opportunity for kids to get help with math homework, listen to any song, or video chat with their grandparents at any time is amazing. But technology presents new challenges for parents, and it's important that they're equipped with resources to tackle them effectively.


Today is Safer Internet Day, and this year’s theme is a call to action to create a better internet for the youngest users. Here are some of the resources we’ve developed over the years that do just that.


Be Internet Awesome

Be Internet Awesome is a program—developed in collaboration with online safety experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely—that teaches kids how to be safer, more confident explorers of the online world.


Whether they’re playing Interland, our interactive online game, or learning from educators that are applying our lesson plans in their classrooms, Be Internet Awesome aims to help kids be thoughtful about what they share, identify phishing and other scams, protect their personal information, and be respectful of their peers.


One of the program’s most important pillars is: “When in doubt, talk it out.” Making sure that kids can talk about these new issues with a trusted adult—like a parent or teacher—is critical as they’re learning to navigate the web safely.


Family Link

It’s hard to balance giving kids the freedom to explore the internet, while guiding their experience. Family Linkcan help parents stay in the loop as their kid begins using their first mobile device. Parents can create a Google Account for their kid that's much like their own—and do things like manage apps, keep an eye on screen time, and set a bedtime for their kid's device.


Google Wifi

We’ve also built family-friendly controls into Google Wifi. Site Blocking, which uses the best of SafeSearch, enables parents to block access to more than 8 million non-kid-friendly websites on any device in the home—all with a few taps in the Google Wifi app. And to help you manage screen time, Google Wifi has a helpful feature where you can pause the Wi-Fi when it’s time to sit down for dinner or wind down for bed.


We’ve come a long way since I was using my dad’s computer in his office, and in the years ahead, technology will only become a more central part of our lives. We’re committed to building tools and designing programs that enable parents to provide a safer and inspiring experience for their kids online.

Source: Education


Pioneer new lessons in your classroom with Google Expeditions

Editor's note:This week our Google for Education team will be joining thousands of educators at Bett in London. At our booth, C230, you can learn more about Google Expeditions in person. Follow along on The Keyword and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Since 2015, educators have been using Expeditions to bring lessons to life with the power of virtual reality. As part of our wider Grow with Google efforts, we’re bringing even more immersive learning experiences to classrooms through the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program. With augmented reality, students can explore the eye of a tornado or step foot in historic landmarks by interacting with digital objects right in front of them.

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Student views the asteroid belt in AR using Expeditions.

Through our travels with the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, we’ve worked alongside teachers and students to improve the overall Expeditions experience. One of the top requests we’ve heard from teachers and students is the ability to create their own Expeditions. Today, we are excited to announce a beta program that allows schools and educators to do just that. Classrooms will be able to create immersive tours of the world around them -- their classrooms, their schools, their communities. We'll provide participating schools with all the tools and hardware required to capture 360 images and curate unique Expeditions. For more information about the program, sign up here.

This feature transforms the classroom from a content consumption space to an immersive content creation space with the student taking the lead. Paul Zimmerman
Technology Innovator, Blaine County, Idaho

We are eager to hear feedback from teachers and students about how they use these new tools. In the past year, we’ve used feedback directly from our users to make Expeditions even more engaging and effective. We’ve added personalization features like annotations to allow a teacher to highlight their own observations in a panorama. We’ve also enabled students and all lifelong learners (we’re looking at you, parents and guardians) to visit and discover new places through self-guided mode.

We can’t wait to see what you create and remember to keep the feedback and suggestions coming through the app or here. Thank you for helping us make Google Expeditions even better.

Source: Education


A new pathway to roles in IT Support

Today, we’re launching the Google IT Support Professional Certificate hosted on Coursera—a first-of-its-kind online program to prepare people for roles in IT support. With no previous experience required, beginning learners can become entry-level job ready in eight to 12 months. This program is part of Grow with Google, our initiative to help people get the skills they need to find a job.


There’s no better example of a dynamic, fast-growing field than IT support. With more and more people relying on computers for some part of their work, growth in IT support is outpacing the average rate for all other occupations. In the United States alone, there are currently 150,000 open IT support jobs (according to Burning Glass), and the average starting salary is $52,000 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.  

I helped hire Google’s IT staff for several years when I led our internal IT support program; it was often challenging to find qualified candidates. But I knew that candidates didn't need traditional four-year college degrees to be qualified—and also found that IT was very teachable. So in 2014 we partnered with the nonprofit organization Year Up to create a program aimed at training and hiring non-traditional talent for IT support internships and full-time roles. The program was a success, and its graduates inspired us to think about how we could make a bigger impact beyond Google. Watch the story of one of our program graduates, Edgar Barragan:

Edgar Barragan: IT Support Specialist

Now we’re using the training we implemented at Google as the basis of a new program available to anyone, anywhere, as part of the Grow with Google initiative. No tech experience or college degree is necessary.


With over 64 hours of video lessons and a dynamic mix of hands-on labs and other interactive assessments, all developed by Googlers, this certificate program introduces people to troubleshooting and customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, automation, and security—all the fundamentals of IT support. Throughout the program, people will hear directly from Googlers whose own foundation in IT support served as a jumping-off point for their careers.


Since we know training is just the first step, we also want to help with the next one—the job search. Once people complete the certificate, they can opt in to share their information directly with top employers, including Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, GE Digital, PNC Bank, Infosys, TEKSystems, UPMC, and of course, Google, all who are looking to hire IT support talent.


To ensure job seekers from all backgrounds have access to the program, we’re subsidizing the cost of the certificate on Coursera to $49/month and providing financial support to more than 10,000 learners in the United States. Need-based scholarships, funded by Google.org grants, will be offered through leading nonprofits focused on underrepresented communities including Year Up, Per Scholas, Goodwill, Student Veterans of America, and Upwardly Global. Full financial assistance is also available to those who qualify.  


You can find out more and enroll at the Google IT Support page on Coursera.


I’ve seen firsthand how educational opportunities can transform people’s careers and lives. By making the Google IT Support Professional Certificate accessible on Coursera, we hope to open the door for everyone to begin a career in technology.

Source: Education


Eight things you need to know about Hash Code 2018

Are you up for a coding challenge? Team up to solve an engineering problem from Google—registration for Hash Code 2018 is now open.  

Hash Code is Google’s flagship team programming competition for students and professionals in  Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. You pick your team and programming language, we pick a Google engineering problem for you to solve. Thinking about competing in Hash Code? Here’s what you need to know before you sign up:

1. This is the fifth edition of Hash Code. Hash Code started in 2014 with just 200 participants. We’ve grown a bit since the early days—last year more than 26,000 developers teamed up to compete from 100+ countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

2. Problems are modeled after Google engineering challenges. We want participants to experience what software engineering is like at Google, so we model Hash Code problems after challenges faced by Google engineering teams. Past problems have included optimizing video serving on YouTube, routing Street View cars through a busy city, and optimizing the layout of a Google data center.  

3. You compete in a small team (just like engineers at Google!). To compete in Hash Code, you need to form a team of two to four people. This means it’s not just about what you know individually, but about how you and your team can work together to tackle the problem.

4. Hash Code kicks off with an Online Qualification Round on Thursday, March 1. It all starts with a YouTube livestream at 18:30 CET sharp, after which the problem is released and teams have four hours to code. 

5. Hubs add extra excitement to the Online Qualification Round. Hubs are meetups where teams in the same area can come together to compete in the Online Qualification Round. They’re also a great opportunity for you to connect with other developers in your community. More than 300 hubs have been registered so far, and it’s not too late to organize a hub if there isn’t one near you already.

Some competitors in the 2017 Hash Code Online Qualification Round
Some competitors having fun at a few of the hubs during the 2017 Hash Code Online Qualification Round.
6. The Final Round will be held at Google Dublin. Top teams from the Online Qualification Round will be invited to our European Headquarters in April to vie for the title of Hash Code 2018 Champion.

7. It's a competition—but it's also about having fun! As Ingrid von Glehn, a software engineer at Google London who is part of the Hash Code organizing team, puts it: “We design the problems to be challenging, but not intimidating. It’s important to us that everyone has fun while taking part.” 

Join in on all the fun online through our Facebook event and G+ community, using the #hashcode tag. These channels are also great spaces to connect with other engineers and find team members.

Hash Code 2018

8. You can register todayReady to accept the challenge? Be sure to sign up before registration closes on February 26.

*Featured image: Teams hard at work tackling our wireless router placement problem during 2017’s Final Round in Paris. 

Source: Education