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Doodle 4 Google contest dangles college scholarship

The student with the top Google Doodle wins a $30,000 college scholarship and the chance to grace Google's home page for a day.

The winning doodle for the 2014 Doodle 4 Google contest. Audrey Zhang/Screenshot by CNET

Google flavors its home page with doodles that commemorate significant people and events. The vast majority of the doodles are created in-house, but the search giant also hosts an annual contest for children.

The Doodle 4 Google contest challenges students in kindergarten through 12th grade to submit a doodle that stands out for artistry and imagination. The winning doodle graces Google's home page for a day, and the artist wins a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 grant for his or her current school and a trip to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to meet the Doodle team.

Contest winners also gain exposure on one of the world's most heavily trafficked websites. The winning doodle is up only for 24 hours, but the home page generates millions of views per day.

What's this year's theme?

"There are a million and one facts, interests, and quirks that make everyone unique," Google said. "For centuries, artists have created paintings, sculptures, self-portraits, and more to offer insights into their personalities and values. Now, we're asking kids to do the same by creating a doodle that shows the world what they're passionate about, what gets them excited, or what they dream about. In other words, we're asking that this year's doodles explain 'What makes me...me.'"

Guest judges and Google's Doodle team will pick the best doodle from each of the 50 states as well as one from Washington DC, Puerto Rico and Guam. From February 8 to 22, 2016, the U.S. public votes for their favorite doodle among the 53 finalists. On March 28, a panel of Google employees chooses one finalist from each of the five grade groups and then names the national winner.

Past winners have included an imaginary device that cleans drinking water and a reunion between a girl and her father returning home from war.