Google advertises best student ideas on global warming

Classes were invited to use Google's collaborative online software to brainstorm ideas for combating global warming. The best ideas were published in a USA Today ad.

Killing two birds with one stone might not be an apt aphorism for the latest Google Docs & Spreadsheets marketing ploy. But the the dominant Internet search engine's new project involves students using Google Docs to brainstorm solutions to global warming, eSchool News reports.

Students from over 20 different countries recently participated in a Google-sponsored project that helps promote Google's online apps while aiming to find solutions to global warming. Google Docs is an online word processing program that can be shared in real time by more than one user. All data is stored on a central database at Google.

Partnering with Global SchoolNet Foundation, Google Inc. asked students from around the world to an online brainstorming session. Their ideas were then put on a spreadsheet created for their region. From those spreadsheets, Google chose the top 50 ideas, which appear in a USA Today advertisement.

"The concept ... was to bring this specific tool to bear on a fun project that would have educational value--and on a topic that we really believe in," said Jen Mazzon, product manager for Google Docs & Spreadsheets. "We were trying to bring attention to students' ideas on such an important topic, as well as to highlight that they were collaborating globally while using Google Docs and Spreadsheets."

A few of the ideas students came up with: expand tax credits to companies that invest in alternative, emission-free fuel technologies; make low-interest mortgages available to homeowners who increase the energy efficiency of their homes; and make recycling mandatory in all public facilities, such as schools, parks, and beaches.

Google is putting a lot of energy into marketing its web-based software to schools. The collaboration with Global SchoolNet Foundation comes on the heels of launching its new website,, containing lesson plans and links to an array of free Google software programs teachers can use in their classes.

"It's the perfect place for them to target the next generation of computer users," said James McQuivey, a former Forrester Research analyst who is now a Boston University professor specializing in technology and communications.