These tours are not available to the public, but a friend of mine who works in Google’s advertising department was kind enough to take a few hours out of her workday to show the kids around the facilities. Actually, taking a few hours out of your workday seems to be mandatory at Google. Kaya astutely described the setting as “some sort of Utopia,” and it certainly felt that way, with employees taking mid-day breaks to play volleyball, shoot some pool, pour themselves an espresso, or take a ride on one of the multicolored Google-bikes. The team members all took a ride on a bike once we were out of sight of the strange Google-guards. We learned that Google is employing some of the same energy-saving ideas that we have been talking about, with small electric vehicles to travel around the facilities, and a ride-share program that gives employees use of a hybrid car if they need to run an errand during the workday. We also got to go check out their solar panels, which are on the roofs of all of Google’s buildings. An engineer was kind enough to answer some of the kids’ questions, and he was impressed by Brandon’s and Stefon’s ability to intelligently respond to one of the questions he uses to interview engineering applicants.
From Google we went directly to NASA’s Moffett Field Research Station for the Opening Ceremonies of the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards. It was a blast, with an inspirational and entertaining talk from “Mythbusters’” own Adam Savage and a performance from Los Angeles band Ozomatli. The Grammy-nominated band asked for volunteers to write a few lines about how they “Get their genius on” and come rap/sing it for the crowd. Kaya was the first person in the whole crowd who was brave enough to come on stage, which led to a highly entertaining parade of kids showing their creativity and enthusiasm.