This article was written by James D., who has written articles on ways to obtain a social work degree online as well as other degrees.
Though Google has seen some criticism in the last several years — accusations that it doesn’t practice its own “don’t be evil” policy in the wake of its interactions with the Chinese government, its battle with Apple over its Google Voice port for the iPhone, and the declining relevance of its technologies — it often spurs the creation of extremely interesting, engaging new programs and features. Google’s Project 10 to the 100 is yet another example of this. The company is providing $10 million split between 5 organizations to advance their projects, which this year are the Khan Academy, FIRST, Public.Resource.org, Shweeb, and AIMS.
Khan Academy received $2 million from Google. The organization, led by Salman Khan, seeks to use “video to explain the world,” providing educational opportunities through free courses available in many languages. Khan’s organization takes a more conversational approach, breaking the lecture structure down into smaller chunks to render it easier to digest, particularly in the worlds of math and science. Its long-term goal is to produce adaptive software and simulation games to complement its video curriculum.
FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, received $3 million for robotics team programs intended to recruit additional students. The organization, founded by Dean Kamen, seeks to further science, engineering and technology education in young people predominantly through mentor-based programs. It organizes many robotics-based competitions for students aged 6-18 (using LEGO robotics early on, then more sophisticated systems at higher levels) and seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, become involved in their communities, and seek out graduate degrees in the sciences.
Over the last 21 years, FIRST has according to many studies produced students far more likely to attend college (and to intern in their first year), work in science or technology, major in science or engineering, and serve in their community in some capacity.
Public.Resource.org received $2 million to make “primary legal materials in the US available to all people.” The nonprofit corporation publishes court cases, legal documents, and other materials that have been published for years in expensive database services such as LexisNexis but have been unavailable for free. It also publishes government videos and documents where available and applicable.
Shweeb received $1 million for research and development of human-powered transit rails. Perhaps the most farfetched sounding of the groups to receive support from Google, the organization is looking to develop recumbent cycles on monorails in order to combine personal fitness and mass urban transportation, initially serving as a complement to existing train, subway, and roadway systems. Perhaps, unlike the Segway, we’ll actually see this take off. I can’t help but wonder.
AIMS — the African Institute for Mathematical Science, based out of Cape Town, South Africa — received $2 million to fund additional AIMS centers to “provide quality [math and science] education to African students,” particularly at the graduate level.
All of these organizations show Google choosing not to be evil, but rather to support innovation and education, Congratulations to the winners.