Google is sponsoring a "Doodle 4 Google" contest for K-12 students in the United States to encourage them to create spectacular doodles— one of which will be featured in the future on Google's doodle-friendly home page.
"Doodle 4 Google is the chance for young artists to think and dream big," wrote Ryan Germick, the Doodle team lead, in a Feb. 4 post on the Google Official Blog. "Our theme this year, 'If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…' is all about curiosity, possibility and imagination."
Home page doodles have been a staple of Google's search page since the company's start in 1998. And for centuries before that, doodles have been around in many forms, wrote Germick.
"Before there was an airplane, there were doodles of flying machines, and before there was a submarine, there were doodles of underwater sea explorers," he wrote. "Ideas big and small, practical and playful, thought-provoking and smile-inducing, have started out as doodles. And we're ready for more!"
Google has been sponsoring K-12 doodle contests since 2008, but for 2014, there will be a new perk for the top doodler.
"This yearp—for the first time ever—the winner of the competition will become an honorary Google Doodler for a day and animate his or her Doodle for the homepage with the Doodle team," wrote Germick. "The winning Doodle will then be featured on the Google homepage for a day for millions to see. If that's not cool enough, the winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school."
Submissions for the contest are due by March 20.
To enter, students can download an entry form and get to work on their ideas. "If you feel like your young artist may need a little nudge to get their creative juices flowing, we're partnering with Discovery Education to offer videos and activities for teachers and parents as well as a virtual field trip to Google's headquarters," wrote Germick. "We're also offering interactive 'Meet the Doodler' Connected Classrooms sessions where kids can meet Google Doodlers, learn about their process from idea to a Doodle, and ask questions along the way."
Judging for the competition will be conducted by Google employees and a panel of guest judges, including astronaut Ron Garan, Percy Jackson series author Rick Riordan, Google[x] Captain of Moonshoot Astro Teller, directors of "The LEGO Movie" Chris Miller and Phil Lord, Rhode Island School of Design President Rosanne Somerson, robotics designer Lee Magpili, and authors Lemony Snicket and Mary Pope Osborne, wrote Germick.
The 50 state finalists will be announced on April 29, which will be followed by a public vote to select the national winner, according to Google. The public voting period ends on May 9.
"These 50 kids will all get to visit Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on May 21 for a day full of creative workshops and other fun activities—and the winning (animated!) doodle will be revealed on google.com" on June 9, wrote Germick.
Only one entry is permitted from each student, but the competition is open to whole families, classrooms and schools, according to Google. Entries must be signed by a parent or guardian and can be sent in digitally or via mail to Doodle 4 Google, PO Box 510006, New Berlin, WI 53151. Entries sent in via overnight couriers can send their doodles to Doodle 4 Google, Promotions Department, 5000 South Towne Drive, New Berlin, WI 53151.
The national winner in the Doodle 4 Google competition in 2013 was Sabrina Brady, 17, from Wisconsin.
Google promotes a wide range of events aimed at getting K-12 students interested in computing and education. In January, Google announced that it has been organizing after-school programs to encourage young students to dive into technology and come out with useful skills and lucrative careers. Through a pilot program launched in July 2013 at Google's South Carolina data center, Google has been working with students to encourage their interest and show them some of the cool things they can do in the field of computer science.
In October 2013, Google again launched its annual Google Code-in, which is for 13- to 17-year-old students, and its Summer of Code 2014 program, which is for college students. The fourth annual Google Code-in 2013 contest brought teen students together with open-source projects. Since 2005, Google has worked with over 1,200 students from 71 nations through the Code-in programs. The Code-ins run for seven weeks, during which competing students work with 10 selected open-source projects on a variety of tasks.
Applications for the Summer of Code 2014 program will open in March 2014. The Summer of Code, which invites college students to learn about the world of open-source code development, began in 2005 and will celebrate its 10th year in 2014. So far, the program has involved some 8,500 college and university students from more than 100 countries, who have created more than 50 million lines of code since the program's start.