This week, Google announced that seven-year-old Sarah Gomez-Lane is the winner of its 10th annual Doodle 4 Google contest and her drawing will be featured on its homepage.
Gomez-Lane, a first grader from Virginia, was selected from over 180,000 other students across the U.S. and is the youngest to ever win the contest, Google confirmed to CNBC Make It. She will receive $30,000 toward a college scholarship and $50,000 will go to her school, Pine Spring Elementary, to be spent on technology. Google has given out $80,000 in prizes each year since 2014.
"The things on my Doodle are my favorite dinosaurs. Dinosaurs inspire me to study more to be a paleontologist," Gomez-Lane told Google. "The shovel is for my future job!"
Sarah Gomez-Lane's drawing for the Doodle 4 Google contest (Courtesy of Google)
Students were asked to respond to the theme "What Inspires Me …" and drawings were judged based on artistic merit, creativity and how well the theme was represented.
After millions of members of the public voted, a panel of judges — featuring actor Neil Patrick Harris, former Mets player Carlos Beltran and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, among others — helped select the five finalists, one from each of five age groups ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade. The finalists submitted drawings of space travel, fashion, design and geography.
Doodle 4 Google contest winners at the Mountain View headquarters on June 18, 2018 (Courtesy of Google)
Gomez-Lane and the other four finalists also won a trip to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, where the kids got to celebrate their win and meet the Google Doodle team. Each finalist also receives a Pixelbook computer and $5,000 for college.
Google doodles began in 1998 when, instead of using a typical away message, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin played with the corporate logo to show that they were at Burning Man in the Nevada desert.
After years of showcasing artists' work, Google created the Doodle 4 Google contest in 2008 as a way to showcase student work. The contest takes place in other countries as well.
Sarah Gomez-Lane, bottom left, in at Google HQ in Mountain View with her family (Courtesy of Google)
"We're all just so happy for Sarah," her mother Maria Lane told her local newspaper, the Falls Church News-Press. "It's very gratifying to see how one child's inspiration and creativity can have a really exciting result in this national contest."
Sarah Gomez-Lane, 7, accepting her Doodle 4 Google award at the Google HQ (Courtesy of Google)
Gomez-Lane will get to work with Google over the summer to help animate her artwork before the doodle goes live later this year.
"I can't stop thinking and talking about it, but Sarah's happy to move onto the next thing," her mother says. "She wants to keep doing her drawings and talk about the exciting things she's doing at school, so she's got her head in the right place."
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