As you may be aware, there is a contest for school children, Doodle 4 Google. The Google Doodles are, of course, the special Google displays that commemorate things like South Africa Freedom Day. And sometimes they are animations, like the one they did for Claude Debussy’s 151st Birthday. And sometimes they are even games like my all time favorite Google Doodle celebrating Roswell’s 66th Anniversary. (I have written a thorough analysis of it.) But mostly they are just pretty images that act to spice up the usual boring Google home page.
The idea of the competition is not just artistic. The students are supposed to visualize the future. According to Google, “Since the beginning of time, ideas big and small, practical and playful, have started out as doodles.” So I was keen to see what the kids came up with. And yesterday, the winners from each state were announced. They are divided into five sets of ten winners in the grades K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, and 10-12. You can vote for the one that you think is the best. I don’t think I could pick just one myself. I figured that they would be great and they did not disappoint. So I thought I would share the ones that I liked most in each group.
I’m especially impressed with the K-3 group, because I don’t remember even being able to talk when I was that old. I can’t imagine coming up with anything as zany and cool as Jason Rosado’s Time Extender, which he explains as, “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place, I would invent a machine to slow down time so we can have longer days. It would float in space and put a force field around Earth to slow down Earth’s rotation.” Rylie Cottrill wants to cure cancer, but I was especially charmed by the equations she used in her entry: C-4÷7=Z=C12-B. I have no idea what it means, so it very well may be the cure for cancer. But I was blown away by Annaliese Tester’s Clean our World with Litterbot:
The 4-5 group is even better than some of the later groups. Connor Heagy created a beautiful image for his wonderfully fanciful The Trashformer that “turns trash into clean water and flowers.” Inga Zimba did a really cool thing with “Google” and Honeycombs as well as highlighting a really important issue, “I would invent robotic bees that could follow living bees to their hives to gather and record data in hopes of discovering what bees need humans to do to reverse the effects of Colony Collaspe Disorder, otherwise known as the mass disappearance of honey bees. Bees are vital to life!” But Shashi Arnold’s flying cardboard box is just irresistible:
The 6-7 group really ups the the artistic level. But I’m also impressed with the intelligence and wit. Josie Psimer offers us a language translator for dogs called the “Howl Ya Doing 3000.” Christine Anna Jeong offers the Galactic Express, which she visualizes as a railway in space. But since I am an old softy, I present to you Esther Park’s vision of a truly utopian future, Freindship:
With the 8-9 group, some cynicism starts to creep into our worldviews. This is especially true of Aaliya Jaleel’s The Heart Reader, of which she says, “Some people tell us that what they are doing is for our benefit when it’s not. The heart reader ‘reads’ a person’s heart and reveals their personality and true intention.” The image is also great with muted pastels. But even Renaise Kim wants to create binoculars that make people see the world more optimistically. Of course, they aren’t all in this category. Lucy Zhu wants to wipe out tornadoes and Ansley Grider wants to cure cancer. But my favorite certainly implies a jaundiced eye on our world: Yanming Wen’s Looking through another’s eyes. It involves eye glasses that allow one to see the world through another’s eyes:
The graphic designs of the 10-12 group are astounding. Yet they haven’t lost their innocence. Isabel Waller, like Connor Heagy above, wants to turn garbage into flowers. But her image makes me think she may be the next Bill Watterson. Justin Whitehead wants to cure obesity by making broccoli taste like Oreo cookies. And Bronte Mock wants to create biodegradable plastic. But I was especially moved by Amy Carlson’s Ideatriever. How she is not already a star illustrator in the children’s book publishing industry, I do not know.
All these kids make me wonder what I did with my life. It’s all wonderful, fun, smart stuff. This is the best I’ve felt about the future in a long time. (But it will pass.)
Update (9 June 2014 7:57 pm)
The overall winners were announced. To some extent, I think it is wrong to try to pick a single one even in one age group. They were all great. But it is interesting that only one that I highlighted—Amy Carlson’s Ideatriever—won an age category. And only one that I mentioned—Renaise Kim’s Brighter World through Binoculars—won an age category. My tastes are clearly rather different than most people’s. Or—and I think this is much more likely the case—some parents were much better boosters for their children’s work. Which makes the whole idea of winners even more silly. But again: congratulations to all of the kids. They are the best of what we are.