Here's how your kid can win the Doodle 4 Google contest

Leader of the Google Doodle team dispenses some advice for aspiring young doodlers.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read

This year's Doodle 4 Google contest prompt is, "What I see for the future..."

Google Doodle's competition has its eyes on the future.

In the ninth year of the Doodle 4 Google contest, the search engine is challenging students in kindergarten through 12th grade with this year's theme, "What I see for the future..."

From there, artists can be as creative as they'd like -- the competition lets students use any material or medium, as long as it can be photographed or displayed in a two-dimensional format.

The prize is a coveted spot on Google's home page for a day, one of the many "Google Doodles" that the company regularly puts up in place of its logo as a way to spice up the search engine. It's a high-profile spot for any artist, since that doodle will garner hundreds of millions of views simply because of the prime position.

Along with the exposure, the winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology award for his or her school, and a trip to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, to meet the Doodle team.

With the stakes so high, Ryan Germick, the head of Google's Doodle team, offered some advice to the hundreds of thousands of entrants that he expects to see.

"What's always exciting is to see artwork that expresses the individuality of the artist," Germick said. "It doesn't have to be the fanciest art. It's really not about showing off, it's about communicating."

Germick said he looks for pictures that have a strong concept with a clear and powerful message.

For aspiring Google Doodlers who want to think outside of traditional sketches, Germick suggests they still think inside the box, at least when it comes to the end result. Participants should consider how it will look on a desktop or a smartphone.

"Really, it's about expressing an idea and getting a feeling to the audience," he said. "So sometimes simple is better."

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This Google Doodle won in 2014 with the prompt to "draw an invention to make the world a better place."

But that doesn't mean grand works of art are automatically disqualified. Take a look at the Doodle 4 Google's winner in 2014, when then 11-year-old Audrey Zhang drew this extravagant piece as an invention that would make the world a better place.

"There's so many things in it," Germick said. "That just goes to show there's no right or wrong way."

Google selected this year's theme as a challenge for kids to "imagine what possibilities await in the years to come," the company said in a statement. The contestants are split through grades K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 and 10-12.

Contestants have until December 2 to submit their entries.

All students enrolled in US, Puerto Rico or Guam schools are eligible for the competition. Fans will be able to vote on the 53 best doodles, one from each grade group. The national winner is expected to be announced by February 2017.