Author Archives: Miriam

Introducing Chrome Music Lab

(Cross-posted on the Chrome Blog.)

This year, for Music in Our Schools Month, we wanted to help make learning about music a bit more accessible to everyone by using technology that’s open to everyone: the web. We built a set of experiments that let anyone explore how music works. It’s called Chrome Music Lab, and you can check it out at

You can play with sound, rhythm, melody, and more. Chrome Music Lab is all built for the web, so you can start playing instantly, whether you’re on a tablet, phone, or laptop. Just like today’s Clara Rockmore doodle, the experiments are all built with the Web Audio API, a freely-accessible, open web standard that lets developers create and manipulate sound right in the browser. We’re also providing open-source code so that others can build new experiments based on what we’ve started.

Exploring music can help spark curiosity in all kinds of ways. We hope these experiments inspire you – whether they give you a new perspective on music, make you more curious about math and science, or even make you think of new ways to teach or code.

So crank up the volume and start playing at

SXSWedu Speakers: How mentorship inspires students to make a global impact

Editor's note: If you’re in the Austin area today for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom throughout the day. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space. Can't make it? Don't fret, all presentations will be added to the schedule after the event.

What’s the secret to inspiring the next generation of innovators? Today SXSWedu in Austin, Texas, we’ll hear thoughts about this topic from a host of speakers, including Monica Martinez, regional director at EdTechTeam, and a panel of Google Science Fair student winners.

While inspiration comes in many forms, it’s clear that technology, along with support from teachers, parents and advisors, is key to motivating students to make a difference in their communities and beyond. Here’s an overview of what these inspiring speakers will be sharing.

Empowering a culture of technology and mentorship
“Everything I’ve done in my career involves using technology to become more efficient,” says Monica Martinez. “I want to inspire educators and teachers to do the same, to solve problems and create workflows that would otherwise be cumbersome.” As regional director at EdTechTeam, her goal is to help educators embrace tools, such as Google Apps for Education, to better manage their work.

Martinez has been passionate about technology since childhood, when she started using her uncle’s computer for school projects and to teach herself how design. She built a career in design and educational technology — the two topics that have inspired her SXSWedu session about creating the ultimate workflow for educators with Google Apps.

“Teachers often are concerned that they don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done,” Martinez says. This problem is compounded when teachers feel ill-equipped to use new technology. Martinez leads workshops to show teachers how easy-to-use technology can help with their daily tasks.

Beyond the efficiency benefits, technology helps to create a culture of empowerment. When educators model new technology, they can inspire students to do more with the tools at their disposal.

“Telling students to think critically, experiment with new things and collaborate is fine, but if they don’t see their teachers, mentors and advisors doing the same, the message isn’t as strong and sometimes lost,” says Martinez.
Topic: Efficient workflows with Google Apps
Monica Martinez, Regional Director, EdTechTeam
When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016, 12:30 - 1:00 pm
Inspiring the next generation of creators
Kavita, Elif, Naomi and Deepika are young inventors who will be speaking about how to motivate future innovators, explorers and pioneers. Aside from being Google Science Fair finalists and winners, these four young people have something else in common: supportive and dedicated mentors.

“Many teenagers are sitting at home all over the world with big ideas and questions, but they don’t know how to get started making a difference. Teachers, parents and mentors in their communities can play a powerful role by supporting these students,” explains Andrea Cohan, program lead for the Google Science Fair.

Students that participate in the Google Science Fair are able to explore and interact with science, engineering and their communities — global and local — in a way that enriches the typical classroom experience.

From finding sustainable alternatives for manufacturing and water purification to improving air quality, the students on this panel have no shortage of world-changing ideas. For example, Elif, who is from Istanbul, Turkey, found a way to use banana peels to produce bio-plastic as a replacement for traditional petroleum-based plastic in her project, Going Bananas.

SXSWedu attendees are in a position to positively impact students’ lives. “You can help them find the resources they need to get started, discuss their ideas with them and simply be a supportive sounding board. Every student on this panel attributes part of their success to the mentors, like you, in their lives,” Cohan says.
Topic: #Howcanwe inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers and pioneers? Moderator: Stephan Turnipseed, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Destination Imagination
Panelists: Google Science Fair winners Kavita Selva, 2013 Google Science Fair finalist Elif Bilgin, 2013 Google Science Fair Science in Action winner Naomi Shah, 2011 Google Science Fair winner, ages 15-16 Deepika Kurup, 2015 Google Science Fair National Geographic Explorer Award winner
When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016, 1:15 - 2:00 pm
To hear from these speakers and more, join us for these sessions at the Google Fiber Space. If you can’t make it in person, follow #GoogleEdu to stay up to date and check the event page where we'll post the presentations. We also encourage all students ages 13-18 (from anywhere in the world!) to participate in the 2016 Google Science Fair, which is open for submissions until May 17.

SXSWedu Speakers: Using technology to motivate students

Editor's note: If you’re in the Austin area for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom today, Monday, March 7 and tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space.

The audience today at SXSWedu has a lofty task in front of them: inspiring and motivating the future generations to innovate, create and make a positive impact on the world. Today, we’re introducing three of the many educational technologists who are hosting sessions at the Google Fiber Space on how technology can help students excel in the classroom and in their future careers.

Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager at Texthelp, will discuss how literacy, accessibility and dyslexia tools help students learn to love reading. Erin Mindell Cannon, Research Education Program Manager at Google, and Abby Bouchon, K12 Education Outreach Specialist at Google, will share tools and resources computer science educators can use to inspire a passion for technology in the classroom. Here’s a brief snapshot of what these speakers will be sharing. If you won’t be at SXSWedu, all presentations will be linked to the schedule after the event.

Technology inspires struggling students to be confident
While children are naturally curious about the world, they often lose this love of learning when they feel frustrated. “The biggest barriers to students achieving academic success is lack of effective strategies to help students when they are struggling,” Carroll says. It can be tricky for teachers to create individual lesson plans when they have classrooms of 30 or more students, all with different learning styles. Tools like Texthelp make it easier for educators to provide personalized learning plans and help students gain confidence.

Reading proficiency is an important building block for academic success, but mastering the skill can be frustrating for students of all levels. Technology can help students improve their reading proficiency fast and practice reading aloud at their own pace. With Texthelp’s Fluency Tutor, for example, students can record themselves reading, practice until they feel confident about their effort and share the recording with their teacher. “My daughter loves using it. She’ll record herself reading a passage then listen to it. If she’s not satisfied with it, she’ll re-record it until she’s happy,” Carroll says.
Student dashboard in Fluency Tutor from Texthelp
Tools like these keep students engaged and allow teachers to measure progress over time, but ”it’s more than just handing over the device,” Carroll says. When you combine hands-on instruction with technology, each student gets personalized attention and encouragement.
Topic: Help Struggling Learners Succeed with Texthelp's Read&Write for Google Chrome Presenter: Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager, Texthelp
When: Monday, March 7th, 9:30 - 10:00 am

Topic: Discover the Future of Reading Supports with Texthelp's Fluency Tutor for Google Presenter: Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager, Texthelp
When: Monday, March 7th, 1:15 - 2:00 pm
Confidence in the classroom is everything
Erin Mindell Cannon and Abby Bouchon, who work with Google to inspire students of all backgrounds to learn computer science, believe educators play a critical role in boosting confidence. Google has published three studies on K-12 CS education and found that a key factor for guiding women to major in computer science (CS) in college is encouragement from parents, educators and peers. On the flip side, students can be discouraged from exploring CS because of the lack of diverse role models. “In another research study, we found that parents and students associate computer scientists with the stereotype of white males who wear glasses,” Bouchon says. Educators can promote a diverse range of role models and make sure the school subject is accessible and engaging for students and teachers from different backgrounds.
Google igniteCS students from Colorado School of Mines' Discover Technology group use binary cards to get middle school students excited about Computer Science
Students can be inspired if they feel that the work they are doing benefits society. “If a student believes she’s capable of creating a new technology that can make a positive impact on the world, that’s a motivator,” Cannon says. Students who understand the practical applications of the technology skills and the positive impact they can have in their community -- such as designing a mobile app that geotags local graffiti and organizes a volunteer event to clean it up -- are more likely to excel in the classroom.
Topic: Celebrating Computer Science Educators Presenters: Erin Mindell Cannon, Research Education Program Manager at Google, and Abby Bouchon, K-12 Education Outreach Specialist
When: Monday, March 7th, 3:45 - 4:30 pm
Interested in learning more about how technology motivates students to succeed? Stop by the Google Fiber Space at 201 Colorado Street to check out these sessions and more today, March 7th.

Showcasing creativity tools using 3D videos, maps and music at SXSWedu

Editor's note: If you’ll be in the Austin area for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom on Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space and stay tuned for more posts over the next few days about other session topics and presenters.

If SXSW is about emerging talent in the film and music space, SXSWedu is the convergence of educational creativity and social change. At this year’s South by Southwest EDU (SXSWedu) conference, we’ll be there highlighting some unique ways schools are truly changing what it means to get an education by giving students the tools to think creatively and carve their own learning path.

We talked with three educators and technologists who will be giving sessions in the Google Fiber Space next week: Bill MacKenzie on how his students are creating a 360-degree virtual reality experience; Emily Henderson on expanding the classroom walls to take field trips across the world; and Vincent Giersch on creating music in a collaborative way.

Students pursue their passions with virtual reality videos
When students used virtual reality in the classroom for the first time, they leapt out of their seats and were transported to a different world. But Upper Grand District School Board took the experience one step further by having students create their own virtual reality experiences. Using a Theta 360-degree camera, students in grades 6 through 8 create videos that encourage them to think creatively and develop a new perspective on the video development process, such as storyboarding with 3D imagery.
Students from Upper Grand District in Ontario, Canada creating documentary-style videos together
The videos allow students to give parents and others an inside view of what it’s like to go to school at Upper Grand District. Students have created documentary-type videos showing students playing dodgeball in PE class, interacting with teachers in class and walking down the halls during break. They also have created videos that benefit the community as a whole. For example, Bill MacKenzie, IT and Program Liaison at Upper Grand District School Board, responsible for developing IT strategy and training teachers how to use technology in the classroom, wanted to convince the board of trustees to invest more in parking lot safety. Students created a 5-minute video using time lapse photography to show an hour of cars coming and going during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up, and in essence, transported the trustees to that moment in time.

Google Cardboard gives an immersive experience for people who can’t physically be there,” MacKenzie says. “We ask kids, ‘What’s a problem you want to solve?’ and empower them to put their thinking caps on and find a solution using technology.”

A global classroom that encourages curiosity and positive change
As students use technology to give them a global perspective, it’s clear how important it is to increase students’ universal awareness and love for the environment. Maps and pictures from around the world encourage students to think about places from a different perspective, sparking curiosity and engagement.

With Google Expeditions, students are able to take immersive virtual reality field trips to the farthest corners of our planet. For example, students in the Samburu Expedition traveled to north-central Kenya to learn about the unique qualities of elephant families and how harmful poaching is to the elephants and ecosystem.
Teacher view on a tablet
“After the field trip, Google mapping tools enable students to go nearly everywhere, learn about anywhere, create rich experiences and share their stories right from their Chromebooks,” says Emily Henderson, Google Geo Education Program Manager.

Students are also using maps and data visualization to positively impact their communities. Using My Maps, a group of Roots & Shoots students in Syosset, New York plotted human, environmental and animal characteristics in their neighborhood to show their community places to celebrate nature in a dense urban environment and highlight local animal shelters. Students are telling stories important to them with the data collected and displayed on maps. Henderson says, “We want to inspire a new generation of global citizens who analyze the past, understand the present and protect its future.”

Creating new music scores and performing them together in real time
As the classroom becomes more collaborative, music students are turning individual projects into group projects using software called Flat for Education. When students compose together, they share their knowledge by combining their music creation ideas and learn from each other’s work. For example, a small group of students can write the parts for their own instrument using the collaborative music notation editor Flat and then perform the end result of individual efforts together.

“When we created Flat for Education, we finally provided the easiest tool to help students learn how to compose together and allow them to create their own music,” says Vincent Giersch, CTO and co-founder of Flat. “We want students to be able to make magic and learn in a way that is engaging for them.”
Music score in Flat
Interested in learning more about these topics? Join us at SXSWedu to hear MacKenzie share tips for introducing virtual reality in classes, Henderson talk about the cool places students are traveling with Google Maps, and Giersch discuss how technology can help music students collaborate creatively.

If you’ll be in the Austin area this week, come visit us at the Google Fiber Space to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom. See the full schedule of sessions and stay tuned for more posts throughout the week.

New templates in Google Docs: for a head start, at school and beyond

Brian LeVee, Product Manager

Writing a book report or creating a lesson plan from scratch is no easy task. Sometimes it’s even difficult to know where to start!

That’s why today, we’re introducing new templates in DocsSheets, and Slides, designed by experts like Reading Rainbow and Google Science Fair to make your schoolwork even better, easier.

Reading Rainbow, the third longest running children's TV series in US history and award-winning digital service, has been inspiring children to read for over 30 years. Reading Rainbow created a lesson plan and a book report template in Docs to help teachers and students get things done.

The Google Science Fair is an annual online science and engineering competition open to teens globally. In the competition, young scientists have tackled issues like world hunger, life-threatening diseases and the energy crisis. Use GSF’s science fair template in Slides for a head start on your next project—or for this year’s GSF.

So whether you’re working on your next project at home or on the bus ride home - get a head start with new templates in DocsSheets, and Slides - all available on the web, Android and iOS.

Google Science Fair 2016: #howcanwe make things better with science?

(Cross-posted on the Official Google blog.)

Editor's note: The 2016 Google Science Fair opens for submissions today. Together with LEGO Education, National Geographic, Scientific American and Virgin Galactic, we’re inviting all young explorers and innovators to make something better through science and engineering. To learn more about the competition, how to enter, prize details and more, visit the site, and follow along on Google+ and Twitter

In this post, 2015 Grand Prize winner, Olivia Hallisey, joins us to reflect back on her own experience with Google Science Fair.

I remember the day I first heard about the Google Science Fair last year. I was sitting in my 10th grade science class when my teacher asked us: “What will you try?” I loved the invitation—and the challenge—that the Google Science Fair offered. It was a chance to use science to do something that could really make a difference in the world.

I had always been curious and interested in science, and knew I wanted to submit a project, but didn’t really know exactly where to begin. I asked my teacher for his advice on selecting a research topic. He encouraged me to choose something that I felt passionate about, or something that outraged me, and told me to look at the world around me for inspiration. So I did. At that time, the Ebola crisis was all over the news. It was a devastating situation and I wanted to help be a part of the solution. I had found my project.

With the outbreak spreading so quickly, I decided that I wanted to find a way to diagnose the virus earlier so that treatment could be delivered as quickly as possible to those who were affected. I read online about silk’s amazing storage and stabilizing properties, and wondered if I could use silk to transport antibodies that could test for the virus. After many failed attempts (and cutting up lots of cocoons) I finally succeeded in creating a temperature-independent, portable, and inexpensive diagnostic test that could detect the Ebola virus in under 30 minutes. I was really excited that my research could help contribute to saving lives, and I was proud to be selected as the Grand Prize winner a few months later.

As the 2016 Google Science Fair launches today, I wanted to share a few tips from my own experience: First, as my teacher once guided me to do, look at the world around you for ideas. If you’re stuck, try the Make Better Generator to find something that excites or inspires you. Second, find a mentor who’s interested in the same things as you. There are a lot of helpful ideas on the GSF site to get you started. And finally, don’t get discouraged—often what first appears like failure can teach you so much more.

I urge other teenagers like me to take this opportunity to find a way to make the world around them better. Every one of us, no matter our age or background, can make a difference—and as young people, we’re not always so afraid to try things that adults think will fail. But change doesn’t happen overnight, and it often starts with a question. So look at the world around you and challenge yourself to make something better.
Science isn’t just a subject—it’s a way to make things better. So I hope you’ll join the conversation and enter the Google Science Fair this year. Our world is waiting to see what you come up with!

The new Certified Innovator Program is here (and better than ever!)

It was over a decade ago when we held our first Google Teacher Academy with a goal of bringing together outstanding educators using technology in the classroom. With so many changes since then, we decided it was about time to make some changes to the program as well. So today we’re thrilled to announce that applications are now open for the new and improved Google for Education Certified Innovator program—an energizing 12 month professional development experience for creative leaders in education. Built from the same magic that was present in each Academy, but extended into much more than a onetime event.

Certified Innovators help their organizations, each other and Google push the boundaries of what’s possible in education. As ongoing participants in this community of educators, they transform the organizations they’re serving, advocate for change, and grow their own capacity as thought leaders. The new program focuses on helping Innovators launch a transformative project to help improve education in their schools, regions, or the world. Support includes mentorship, online learning activities, and an in-person Innovation Academy.

 Kelly Kermode, Integrated Learning Strategist at Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan and member of the Chicago 2013 says of the program: “This program has reinforced my freedom to try new things, fail and rebound. It is energizing that this group strives to break down classroom walls and give students barrier-free classroom experiences through innovation. It keeps me fulfilled as an educator.”

It’s this diversity of ideas and people that makes the Innovator program special. Our current community is comprised of over 1,500 educators, administrators, and thought-leaders representing 49 different countries. “What keeps me engaged is the energy you get from working with like-minded educators. Although it’s hard to put into words, it is inspiring to be part of a community that says ‘what if...’ rather than ‘no we can’t...’ and are willing to push the boundaries beyond what we already do well", says Adrian Francis, Director of Student Learning at Concordia College in Adelaide, South Australia and member of the Sydney 2013 cohort.
Certified Innovators move forward by iterating on projects they are passionate about. New to the application is a section for each applicant to share their vision for a creative solution to a challenge in education. Innovators will be selected based on the vision they present as well as their passion for teaching and learning, innovative use of technology in school settings and potential impact on other educators. "The Certified Innovator program is where the lone wolf meets their pack. It’s where the dreamers, the disrupters, the idealists meet with the intention of being the change” says Tanya Avrith, pedagogical consultant in South Florida and member of the New York 2012 cohort.
If you have an innovative idea and would like the support of passionate educators to make it happen, please apply. We recognize that innovation occurs at all levels and roles in the education community, which is why we’re excited to invite a diverse set of education professionals to apply - from teachers to administrators, Pre-K to Post-Secondary. If you know of someone who would be a great fit for the program, you also have the opportunity to nominate an innovator.

Key dates: 
December 2, 2015: Applications open
January 11, 2016: Applications close at 11:59 PST
January 18, 2016: Applicants notified of selection to program
February 24-26, 2016: In-person Academy in Mountain View, California, USA
January 18, 2017 or before: Launch date of new innovation projects

We’re excited to expand the program to reach more Innovators across North America and in other countries throughout 2016. Anyone is eligible to apply to the program although preference may be given to in-region candidates. Please stay tuned for more application dates and locations. We can’t wait to innovate with you.