I am writing from Palo Alto, where I have the happiness to be a member of the jury for the Google prize for science and technology (this is my wordings; for them it's Google Science Fair).
My happiness is not to be at the sun, in California... because I am working in the shadow of an office. It's not to be on the Google campus... because I don't care about campuses; nothing is more like a campus than another champus. And, anyway there is much secrecy in Google. My happiness is not to be in a jury, because it takes me time on my research.
No, my happiness is to meet young people crazy about science and technology. So crazy thaht they make wonderful things.
For example, one used online pictures of the night sky and worked in order to distinguish double images of quasars, because of gravitational lenses. Another one produced connected socks, because he wanted his grandfather having Alzheimer disease to wander in the night. Another built a system for cleaning water in poor countries. Another used graphene and titatium dioxide for the same kind of purpose, and so on.
They are between 13 and 18 old, and they do extraordinary things. I am sure that they will become great scientists or technologists... and we have the duty to help them to improve even better.
There is a drawback: there will be not a prize for any of them. And we had to choose. When non elected, they will be sad, of course; but on the other hand, there is a possibility to encourage them.
To be discussed also: the issue of contests. Virtue is its own reward. Is not scientific work thesame? Should we work for a prize, or for a work? We have to erase this aspect.
Anyway, science is so wonderful!