Technology has the power to change the world for the better, but today far too few have access to the education or encouragement they need to become creators, not just consumers. That’s why Google offers the RISE Awards -- grants of US$15,000 to $50,000 -- to organizations across the globe working to promote access to Computer Science education for girls and underrepresented minorities. Applications for the 2015 RISE Awards are open now, so get yours in by September 30, 2014.

Our RISE partners are changemakers: they engage, educate, and excite students about computing through extracurricular outreach. In 2014, 42 organizations received RISE Awards, including two in Asia Pacific — namely Engineers Without Borders in Australia and Life is Tech! in Japan. In April, we brought all of our partners together for a Global Summit that sparked resource sharing and collaboration amongst organizations.

If you know of an organization that promotes Computer Science (CS) education, and runs initiatives that reach girls, underrepresented minorities, and students facing socio-economic barriers under age 18, encourage them to visit the RISE Awards website to find out more.

Posted by Roxana Shirkhoda, K12/Pre-University Education Outreach, Google

The Google Teacher Academy is coming to South East Asia for the first time this October. Open to all primary and secondary school teachers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the program is designed to help educators get the most out of new technologies in the classroom. If you like to innovate in your classroom using Google’s tools and more, this is the right program for you. Submissions are open until August 29, so get your applications in now.

The Academy will take place in Manila on October 2 and 3. Over these two days, you’ll get hands-on experience with Google’s free tools, learn about innovative instructional strategies and receive resources to share with colleagues.
Snapshots from previous GTAs around the world, including in New York and Sydney
Teachers like JR Ginex-Orinion say the best thing about GTA is becoming part of a global community of 2,000 educators who share the same passion for using technology in the classroom. He continues to lean on the network for advice and materials to help make it easier to get kids to adopt new, tech-based approaches to education. GTA has showed him how much more room there is for tech in learning, and inspired him to further develop his teaching style, enabling him to evolve professionally.

We look forward to meeting more like-minded teachers at the first South East Asian Academy!

Posted by Aileen Apolo, Education Outreach Program Manager, Google South East Asia

Japan is famous for its many colorful matsuri, or festivals. Among them, Awa Odori stands out as one of the largest dance festivals in the country, attracting over 1.3 million people a year. Over the next four days, visitors to the Tokushima Prefecture on the southern island of Shikoku will find groups of up to two hundred dancers dressed in traditional costumes making their way through the streets, chanting to the sound of drums, flutes and bells.

What makes Awa Odori unique is the different choreography followed by men and women. Today’s doodle on captures the women in their conical hats and restrictive kimonos which only allow them to take very small steps forward on the tips of their geta, or wooden sandals. While the women dance with their hands held high and very straight posture, the men dance in a low crouch.
Awa Odori can be traced back nearly 400 years. It became popular in Tokushima in the 16th century to mark the opening of the feudal ruler’s castle. Since then, these are some of the lyrics that have been sung year in and year out: The dancers are fools, The watchers are fools, Both are fools alike so, Why not dance?

For those of you who can’t travel to Tokushima today, you can also check out festival imagery on Street View:

Posted by Shun Ikeda, Associate Product Marketing Manager, Google Japan

This post is part of our regular series of interviews with people across Asia-Pacific who’ve caught our eye, using the Internet to create, connect and grow. This week, we’re featuring a mash-up of two online content creators — EatYourKimchi and TalkToMeInKorean — who have come together to collaborate in the offline world.

How would you describe your YouTube channels in one sentence?
EatYourKimchi (EYK): Simon and Martina: Canada, Korea and beyond.
TalkToMeInKorean (TTMIK): We help people around the world learn Korean.

On the face of it, you don’t seem to have much in common. So what brings you together?
TTMIK: We both went online—onto YouTube in particular—because we realized that it offered a better way to connect with friends, family and other viewers. Initially we published our audio lessons through our podcast feed, but thought it would be great if we could also make videos lessons which people could share more easily with their friends. Now it feels like we’re talking to our students around the world in a virtual online classroom, rather than having a one-way conversation.
EYK: We wanted to show our families what our life was like in Korea and video made that possible, especially as most of today’s real-time video chat apps weren’t around then. We thought we’d just shoot some videos and put them online for our families to see. It just turns out that our family got a lot…bigger!

You’re building a coffee shop together. Why did you decide to collaborate offline?
EYK: It’s the next logical step given where our businesses are growing, and they just so happen to converge in all the right areas. We both have very strong online communities, but we don’t have many effective ways to meet them offline. TTMIK has language meet-ups at other people’s coffee shops, and we keep on doing events and meet-ups in different places around the world. Why not have our own place where we can meet each other at once? We’d also love to have other YouTubers use our space to meet their audiences as well!
TTMIK: Many of our 5 million students who’ve learned Korean through our channel dream of coming to Korea for a visit or to live here for a while. And when they finally get here, they tell us they wish they had a place where they could practice their language skills and meet their online teachers. So, really, building a bricks-and-mortar cafe is a natural extension of what we do online.
Opening day at You Are Here cafe
What do you think offline entrepreneurs can learn from online entrepreneurs?
EYK: What we see with a lot of offline businesses is a “if you build it they will come” approach, in which restaurants and other businesses open up and just sit and hope that people will come. To us, it looks like many offline businesses are putting the cart before the horse in building a place and developing a following afterwards. We’re taking a safer approach, I think: we’ve developed a relationship with our audience, and we want to build a place for them.

Posted by Simon Stawski of EatYourKimchi and Hyunwoo Sun of TalkToMeInKorean

An interesting thing happened last month after Indonesia concluded its third direct presidential election. We found out, like the rest of the world, that two of our software engineers developed a website ( to help guard the vote counting process following the National Election Commission’s decision to upload voting results to its official government website.

Results from the July 9 election were among the closest ever recorded and the Googlers grew concerned after both candidates declared victory. Indonesians Felix Halim, based in Mountain View, and Andrian Kurniady, based in Sydney, joined forces with with three other Indonesian friends in Singapore, Germany, and the Netherlands to create Kawal Pemilu, or Guard the Election.

Working on their own time and using their own resources, they built a crowdsourcing system from scratch in two days. On July 13, they released it to the trusted volunteers to begin digitizing the scanned voting forms coming in from over 470,000 polling sites from around the archipelago. “By opening up the information to public scrutiny, we hoped the system would help reduce uncertainty, fears of electoral fraud and restore the public’s faith in one of the most important events in Indonesia’s young democracy,” explained Kurniady.

Felix Halim is on the far left and Andrian Kurniady is on the far right. Source: Felix Halim

In six days, hundreds of volunteers had digitized 97 percent of the voting forms. The website got nearly three million page views and was cited by Indonesian media after it was made public on July 14. “This helped the election commission and the public find and flag any anomalies with the votes at any level so they could get it fixed,” adds Halim.
This is how you do it. 
The official, aggregated counts were later added with the same intent of providing up-to-date and organized information in a public setting. “We did this to inspire fellow Indonesians and to show the positive impact one can make when applying technology effectively.”

Both Googlers would also like to thank the election commission for opening up their data as well as the volunteers for contributing their time to make this effort possible.

Posted by Rudy Ramawy, Country Head, Google Indonesia

Approximately 1.4% of the world’s population, or more than 100 million people, have developmental disabilities which prevent them from communicating without the help of expensive and clunky devices. Around the world, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and 1.6 billion people—a quarter of humanity—live without electricity. These are major global challenges, and just two of the big issues that finalists from the 2014 Google Science Fair are trying to combat with science, technology and great ideas.

Sixteen-year-old Arsh Shah Dilbagi from India and seventeen-year-old Cynthia Sin Nga Lam from Australia were just named finalists in this year’s Google Science Fair—the largest online science fair in the world, offering students the opportunity to pursue their interest in science and technology. Young people can and have made significant contributions to solving some of today’s greatest challenges. Through the Google Science Fair, we want to support and foster the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Cynthia has created an eco-friendly and economical device that purifies and sterilizes waste to generate electricity through a sustainable process that only requires titania and light.

Arsh has developed an affordable and simple way for people who suffer from developmental disabilities to communicate. His TALK device detects variations in people’s breath which are converted into morse code-like signals which in turn can be turned into speech.
Next month, Cynthia and Arsh will travel to California to compete at Google HQ for the Grand Prize Award. The awards ceremony will be live streamed on the Science Fair YouTube channel and on our website, so tune in to be one of the first to find out this year’s winners. Cynthia and Arsh are also in the running for the Voter’s Choice Award. You can show your support by casting a vote beginning September 1, or learn more about the amazing ideas from young scientists around the world at the Google Science Fair website

Posted by Clare Conway, on behalf of the Google Science Fair team

Wherever users in Asia Pacific head for a summer break, it seems like the one item they aren’t willing to leave behind is their smartphone. We looked at a few summertime rituals across Asia (inspired by colleagues who did a similar rundown in the U.S.) to mark the rise of mobile searches in different countries, and here’s what we found:

Japan: Fireworks and Festivals
In Japan, nothing symbolizes summer more than the fireworks that light up the warm night sky at various festival dates across the country. Mobile searches for “fireworks”, or 花火, were 7 percentage points higher in May 2014 than they were this time last year, and 25 percentage points higher than May 2012.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 3.46.51 PM.png
Mobile Percentage of Searches for “Hanabi” or fireworks in Japan
Source: Google Data, 2013–2014
Obon (お盆) is a traditional festival that’s usually celebrated among friends and family by going out into the countryside for a week or so. You can see that mobile searches for Obon are also higher than ever.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 3.47.10 PM.png
Mobile Percentage of Searches for “Obon” in Japan
Source: Google Data, 2013–2014
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore: Eid Mubarak!

In Muslim countries, the summer is usually punctuated with the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, or Eid. What is fascinating from this chart is that the number of mobile searches went up by so much just from 2013 to this year alone.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.56.52 AM.png
Mobile Percentage of Eid-related Searches in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore
Source: Google Data, 2013–2014

The big jump in mobile searches for Eid tracks the broad and rapid digitization of Indonesia as smartphones become more common:
Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 5.46.44 PM.png
Smartphone user penetration (% of population) in Indonesia 2012-2014
Source: eMarketer, June 2014
A fifth of Indonesians are predicted to have smartphones by the end of 2014 — more than double the number that had them just two years ago.

So however you celebrate your summer, the chances are that, if you’re in Asia, you start your celebration with a smartphone.

Posted by Dušan Farrington, Communications Manager, Google Asia Pacific