“Coming Home” by Wisconsin student wins U.S. 2013 Doodle 4 Google competition

After 130,000 submissions and millions of votes cast, Sabrina Brady of Sparta, Wisc. has been named the 2013 U.S. Doodle 4 Google National Winner. Her doodle, “Coming Home,” will be featured on the Google homepage in the U.S. tomorrow, May 23.

Students across all 50 states amazed us with their creative interpretations of this year’s theme, “My Best Day Ever...” From scuba diving to dinosaurs to exploring outer space, we were wowed by the ways young artists brought their best days to life in their doodles.

Sabrina’s doodle stood out in the crowd; it tells the story of her reunion with her father as he returned from an 18 month deployment in Iraq. Her creative use of the Google letters to illustrate this heartfelt moment clearly resonated with voters across the country and all of us at Google.

In addition to seeing her artwork on the Google homepage, Sabrina—who is in 12th grade at Sparta High School—will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer and a $50,000 technology grant for her school. She will attend Minneapolis College of Art and Design this coming fall, where she will continue her artistic pursuits. Congratulations Sabrina!

In addition to the National Winner, voters across the country helped us determine the four National Finalists, who will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship:
  • Grades K-3: Reagan Gonsalves (Grade 1, Santan Elementary School, Chandler, Ariz.) for her doodle “My best day ever is learning about nature.” Reagan says, “My best day ever is to be around the pretty animals and plants in nature, because I love to know about what is around me. I love to watch hummingbirds drink nectar out of flowers. I love to read books on nature and how plants and animals grow.”
  • Grades 4-5: Audrey Zhang (Grade 4, Michael F. Stokes Elementary School, Levittown, N.Y.) for her doodle “...When I discover paradise!” Zhang says, “My best day ever will be when I discover paradise. In paradise, I could play with dragons, romp with leopards, and chat with fairies...It would be the best day ever when I could finally live in a mystical, dreamy realm.”
  • Grades 6-7: Maria Iannone (Grade 7, Chestnut Ridge Middle School, Sewell, N.J.) for her doodle “The best day ever.” Maria says, “Where I live, it's difficult to view the night sky very well. Having an interest in astronomy, a day where I can observe the things I study on my own time would satisfy me.”
  • Grades 8-9: Joseph Han (Grade 8, Falmouth Middle School, Falmouth, Maine) for his doodle “Late-afternoon bliss.” Joey says, “For me, ‘the best day ever’ doesn't consist of ambitious dreams, but rather the enjoyment of a day spent in carefree euphoria. Being in the woods is something that evokes such happiness in me. The lighthearted joy of rafting, fishing or catching fireflies is what I've attempted to capture.”

After the awards ceremony, all 50 of our State Winners will unveil a special exhibition of their artwork at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where their doodles will be displayed for the public to view from May 22 - July 14.

Thanks to all who voted and helped us select the 2013 Doodle 4 Google winners. Even more importantly, thank you to all of the students who submitted their artwork and the parents and teachers who continue to inspire and support their young artists. Until next year... happy doodling!

The 2013 Doodle 4 Google state winners are in and it’s time for you to vote!

Students from across the country sent in more than 130,000 doodles for our 2013 U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition. Today, we’re proud to share with you our 50 amazingly talented state winners. Exploring their “Best Day Ever...” from life down under to flying from planet to planet in outer space, we were wowed by the imaginations and talent of young aspiring artists from coast to coast.

To reveal the local winners in all 50 states, we’ve sent Googlers to their schools, where they’re celebrating the winning artists along with their parents, classmates, teachers and friends.

Now it’s time to make your voice heard. Starting today and through May 10, we’re inviting the public to vote for their favorite doodle from each of the five different grade groups. Your votes will determine the five national finalists, from which the national winner will be selected and announced at our May 22 awards ceremony in New York City.

We’ll display the winning doodle on the Google homepage on May 23 for millions to see. In addition, you’ll be able to see all 50 doodles created by our state winners in person at a special exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City from May 22 to July 14.

We’d like to send a special thank you to the parents, teachers and administrators who supported young artists and helped students across the country bring their “Best Day Ever” to life. We’ve loved looking at each and every entry that came in this year, and we hope you all enjoy the talent and creativity these 50 students have shared with us.

Following the lead of nature’s engineers

It’s no surprise that Google appreciates engineers. And this Earth Day, we’re looking at some of our favorite engineers from nature to see how they can teach us to treat the environment better. We’ve created a website where we can see the beauty and ingenuity of the natural world through photos from National Geographic. We also want to provide easy ways to be greener in our own lives, so this site shows us how we can all be like those organisms by taking simple actions to care for the environment.

For instance, until recently I’d never heard of a remora. Turns out that these fish latch on to other ocean creatures such as whales and turtles to catch rides. In a way, these fish are using their own form of mass transit. To be like the remora and travel with a lighter footprint, we can plan trips using rapid transit. Or we can be inspired by bears—the true experts on “sleep mode”—to save energy in our own lives by adjusting our home thermostat and using energy efficient appliances.

Our doodle today also acknowledges the interconnections of the natural world. You can interact with elements of the environment to affect the seasons, weather and wildlife.

As another way to move from awareness to action, we’re hosting a Google+ Hangout On Air series focused on pressing environmental issues. We’ll kick it off today at 12pm ET with a Hangout on Air connecting NASA (live from Greenland), National Geographic explorers from around the world, and Underwater Earth (live from the Great Barrier reef). Throughout the week, we’ll hold daily Hangouts on Air covering topics such as clean water and animal conservation.

This Earth Day and every day, let’s take a moment to marvel at the wonder of nature and do our part to protect the natural ecosystem we all depend on. A salute to nature’s engineers!

Doodle 4 Google: A stately competition

Are you a young artist from California? Alabama? Or Indiana (like me!)? Well, get doodling with the topic “My Best Day Ever…” for a chance to see your very own artwork on the Google homepage—and help represent your piece of the union.

Today marks the 30-day countdown to the March 22 submission deadline for the U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition. And in the spirit of friendly competition, we’re inviting you to rally fellow students and teachers in your state to take part in Doodle 4 Google’s 30-day Race to the Finish with an interactive map that shows the top submitting states. States are ranked in order of submissions relative to student population size.

Whether your state tops the submissions race or not, you still have the chance to become the individual state winner. The 50 state winners will win an all-expenses paid trip to New York City in May for the final awards ceremony, where we’ll reveal the winning doodle. The national winner will see his or her doodle on the Google homepage, win a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school. Download an entry form today to get doodling!

Fun fact for those of you who can’t get enough doodles: we run Doodle 4 Google competitions in many countries worldwide, year-round. Vote for your Irish favorites now—the winner will appear on www.google.ie on April 16.

As always, happy doodling!

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace

Last year, a group of us were lucky enough to visit the U.K. Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, as part of the Silicon Valley Comes to the U.K. initiative. While there, we asked about some of the paintings on the wall. When we got to a large portrait of a regally dressed woman, our host said “and of course, that’s Lady Lovelace.” So much of world history leaves out or minimizes the contributions of women, and so “of course” most of us had no idea who she was. You can imagine our surprise when we learned she was considered by some to be the world’s first computer programmer—having published the first algorithm intended for use on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Lady Ada Lovelace, painted by Margaret Carpenter in 1836, from the U.K. Government Art Collection. Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was born nearly two centuries ago in 1815. Her mother, mathematician Anne Isabelle Milbanke, was determined Ada would not fall prey to the same immoralities as Ada’s father, the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” poet Lord Byron. Thus, in an attempt to thwart any similar tendencies, she had Ada tutored in science and mathematics from a young age. It’s fair to say this did not completely work, as Ada went on to lead a rather colourful life. However it did fortuitously result in Ada becoming a mathematician like her mother, and pursuing what she termed “poetical science.”

After a chance encounter when aged 17, Ada became friends with Charles Babbage and grew fascinated by his idea to build an “Analytical Engine.” In 1843 Ada published a description of Babbage's machine. While partly a translation of an Italian work, Ada added voluminous self-penned notes, which made up the bulk of the document. Included in her notes were step-by-step instructions for how the machine could calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers, prepared in collaboration with Babbage. In effect, this was the world’s first published algorithm.

Most importantly, the notes set out Ada's far-reaching vision for what the Analytical Engine signified. While Babbage saw it as a mathematical calculator, Ada understood it had much more potential. She realised it was, in essence, a machine that could manipulate symbols in accordance with defined rules, and—crucially—that there was no reason the symbols had to represent only numbers and equations.
“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” Ada Lovelace, 1843
As Ada eloquently argued, such a device could do far more than mathematics. She even mused about its potential to compose music:
“Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”
This was an astounding conceptual leap from calculation to computing. Ada envisaged a day when a single machine would be capable of a myriad of tasks, limited only by the creativity of its programmer. At the time—nearly a century before the first computers were built—it was a flash of brilliance.

After our visit to Downing Street, we returned to the U.S. determined to learn more about Ada, and to revive her memory. Today, her birthday, is an apt moment. In addition to this post, Google is honouring Ada with a doodle in recognition of her prophetic vision for computing.

Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin

Unfortunately, Babbage's machines were never built in his lifetime, and Ada's vision of computing was lost to obscurity for more than a century. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Science Museum London built Babbage’s Difference Engine from his original drawings. That machine is now on show there, and a second one is now at the Computer History Museum in California. Plans are now afoot to build a replica of the Analytic Engine—so perhaps Ada’s algorithm will at last be run on the machine for which it was intended.

Ada's experience is sadly all too familiar. Too often, the contributions of women in science and technology are left untold, and to fade from view. While Ada’s story has been rediscovered, many others remain little known. That's why initiatives such as Ada Lovelace Day are so valuable, as a catalyst for raising the profile of women in science, past and present. Several wonderful biographies of Ada have been written already, and biographer Walter Isaacson has turned his attention to Ada as part of his next book.

Visibility is also the reason why we launched the Women Techmakers series on GDL, to help shine a light on the roles and contributions of the many talented technical women in our industry today. We hope our series will complement other efforts to raise the profile of women, such as the new AOL/PBS supported website and documentary Makers.com or the work of Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis on SeeJane to improve gender balance and reduce stereotypes in childrens’ television globally.

We hope today's doodle inspires people to find out more about Ada, and about the contributions made by women in general to science and technology.

A tribute to Turing, the father of modern computing

“The past is a foreign country—they do things differently there.” It’s a saying that rings especially true in the world of technology. But while innovating requires us to focus on the future, there are times when it’s important to look back. Today—the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth—is one such moment.

Statue of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park

Turing’s life was one of astounding highs and devastating lows. While his wartime codebreaking saved thousands of lives, his own life was destroyed when he was convicted for homosexuality. But the tragedy of his story should not overshadow his legacy. Turing’s insight laid the foundations of the computer age. It’s no exaggeration to say he’s a founding father of every computer and Internet company today.

Turing’s breakthrough came in 1936 with the publication of his seminal paper “On Computable Numbers” (PDF).  This introduced two key concepts, “algorithms” and “computing machines”—commonplace terms today, but truly revolutionary in the 1930’s:
  • Algorithms are, in simplest terms, step-by-step instructions for carrying out a mathematical calculation. This is where it all started for programming since, at its core, all software is a collection of algorithms.
  • A computing machine—today better known as a Turing machine—was the hypothetical device that Turing dreamed up to run his algorithms. In the 1930’s, a “computer” was what you called a person who did calculations—it was a profession, not an object. Turing’s paper provided the blueprint for building a machine that could do any computation that a person could, marking the first step towards the modern notion of a computer.
Considering the role computers now play in everyday life, it’s clear Turing’s inventions rank among the most important intellectual breakthroughs of the 20th century. In the evolution of computing, all paths trace back to Turing. That’s why Turing is a hero to so many Google engineers, and why we’re so proud to help commemorate and preserve his legacy.

In 2010, Google helped Bletchley Park raise funds to purchase Turing’s papers so they could be preserved for public display in their museum. More recently, we’ve been working closely with curators at London’s Science Museum to help put on a stunning new exhibition “Codebreaker - Alan Turing’s Life and Legacy.” This tells the story of Turing’s vast achievements in a profoundly moving and personal way, through an amazing collection of artifacts—including items loaned by GCHQ, the U.K. government intelligence agency, never before on public display. Topics addressed include Turing’s early years, his code-breaking at Bletchley Park, his designs for the Pilot Ace computer, his later morphogenesis work, as well as his sexuality and death. The exhibition opened on June 21 and is well worth a visit if you’re passing through London in the next year.

And finally, we couldn’t let such a momentous occasion pass without a doodle. We thought the most fitting way of paying tribute to Turing’s incredible life and work would be to simulate the theoretical “Turing machine” he proposed in a mathematical paper. Visit the homepage today— we invite you to try your hand at programming it. If you get it the first time, try again... it gets harder!

Turing was born into a world that was very different, culturally and technologically, from ours—but his contribution has never been more significant. I hope you’ll join me today in paying tribute to Alan Turing, the forefather of modern computing.

A tribute to Bob Moog, sonic doodler

In the mid-1960s, Dr. Robert Moog unleashed a new universe of sounds into musicdom with his invention of the electronic analog Moog Synthesizer. The timbre and tones of these keyboard instruments (true works of art in and of themselves) would come to define a generation of music, featuring heavily in songs by The Beatles, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Kraftwerk and many others.

When people hear the word “synthesizer” they often think “synthetic”—fake, manufactured, unnatural. In contrast, Bob Moog’s synthesizers produce beautiful, organic and rich sounds that are, nearly 50 years later, regarded by many professional musicians as the epitome of an electronic instrument. “Synthesizer,” it turns out, refers to the synthesis embedded in Moog’s instruments: a network of electronic components working together to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts.

With his passion for high-tech toolmaking in the service of creativity, Bob Moog is something of a patron saint of the nerdy arts and a hero to many of us here. So for the next 24 hours on our homepage, you’ll find an interactive, playable logo inspired by the instruments with which Moog brought musical performance into the electronic age. You can use your mouse or computer keyboard to control the mini-synthesizer’s keys and knobs to make nearly limitless sounds. Keeping with the theme of 1960s music technology, we’ve patched the keyboard into a 4-track tape recorder so you can record, play back and share songs via short links or Google+.

Much like the musical machines Bob Moog created, this doodle was synthesized from a number of smaller components to form a unique instrument. When experienced with Google Chrome, sound is generated natively using the Web Audio API—a doodle first (for other browsers the Flash plugin is used). This doodle also takes advantage of JavaScript, Closure libraries, CSS3 and tools like Google Web Fonts, the Google+ API, the Google URL Shortener and App Engine.

Special thanks to engineers Reinaldo Aguiar and Rui Lopes and doodle team lead Ryan Germick for their work, as well as the Bob Moog Foundation and Moog Music for their blessing. Now give those knobs a spin and compose a tune that would make Dr. Moog smile!

Update May 30: We're so glad you enjoyed last week's synthesizer doodle for Bob Moog. Worldwide, you recorded 57 years' worth of synthesized tunes—more than 54 million songs! And those songs were played back 3.6 million times. You can still play on our doodle site. Even if you've composed a song already, create another one—the range of sounds you can create with the knobs is virtually limitless.

Shiver me timbers, the 2012 D4G Winner is....

After 114,000 submissions and millions of your votes, second grader Dylan Hoffman of Caledonia, Wisc. is this year’s U.S. Doodle 4 Google National Winner. His doodle “Pirate Times” will be featured on the U.S. Google homepage tomorrow, May 18.

Hoffman, who attends the Prairie School in Racine, Wisc., responded to this year’s theme “If I could travel in time I’d visit...” with a colorful depiction of his dream visit to an era filled with swashbucklers. There, he’d “sail a pirate ship looking for treasure, have a colorful pet parrot and enjoy beautiful sunsets from deserted islands.” With his win, Dylan has come into some treasure of his own: a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer and a $50,000 technology grant for his school. As an added bonus, Dylan’s doodle will grace the front of a special edition of the Crayola 64-crayon box, available this fall.

After this year's record-breaking submissions, choosing the National Winner and the four National Finalists wasn’t an easy decision. In addition to selecting Dylan, millions of public votes also helped us determine the four National Finalists, each of which will receive a $5,000 college scholarship:
  • Grades 4-5: Talia Mastalski, Grade 5, East Pike Elementary School, Indiana, Penn., for her doodle “Traveling to me.” Talia says, “When I think of Google, I think of a wormhole leading me to knowledge. If I could travel in time, I would visit a similar wormhole into the future to find out about ME.”
  • Grades 6-7: Herman Wang, Grade 6, Suzanne Middle School, West Covina, Calif., for his doodle “Retro City.” Herman says, “If I could travel in time, I'd visit Retro City. A future city made of robots and humans.”
  • Grades 8-9: Susan Olvera, Grade 8, SOAR Alternative School, Lafayette, In., for her doodle “Traveling Back to the Future.” Susan says, “If I could travel in time, I'd travel back to the future. If there is life on other planets, I believe we'd visit the natives as well as invent different ships and rockets for quicker transportation. With what we have accomplished currently, I believe the ‘future’ isn’t so far away.”
  • Grades 10-12: Cynthia Cheng, Grade 11, Edison High School, Edison, NJ, for her doodle “A World of Adventure.” Cynthia says, “If I could travel in time, I'd visit the age of the Vikings. Though their tales of monsters may not have been entirely true, they were some of the greatest explorers in history. It would be a remarkable experience to share adventures and discover new lands with them.”
After the awards ceremony in New York City today, all 50 of our State Winners will unveil an exhibition of their artwork at the New York Public Library, where their doodles will be displayed from May 18-July 19. In addition, the artwork of all our State Finalists and Winners will be displayed at exhibitions in their home states across the country over the summer. Be sure to check out the local exhibition near you.

Thanks to all of you who voted and helped us select this year's winner. Even more important, thank you to all of the students who submitted entries. Keep on doodling and we’ll see you next year!

The Doodle 4 Google State Winners—and time to vote for the National!

Today we’re excited to announce the 50 State Winners of the 2012 U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition. We received a record-breaking 114,000 submissions from all corners of the country—from North Pole, Alaska, to Suwanee, Ga. Young artists doodled their way from the prehistoric to the futuristic and everywhere in between with this year’s theme, “If I could travel in time, I’d visit...”.

To recognize the amazing level of talent, Googlers are celebrating the young artists at school events in their communities along with thousands of their teachers, parents, friends and classmates.

Now it’s time for your voice to be heard. From today until May 10, we invite the public to vote and help us select the five National Finalists. On May 17 at our national award ceremony in New York City, we’ll announce the National Winner. You’ll be able to see the winning doodle on the Google homepage on May 18.

We also hope everyone gets a chance to see these State Winners’ masterpieces, so at the end of the contest, all of the 50 State Winners will have their doodles displayed in an exhibit at the New York Public Library. And, for the first time this year, the artwork of all 250 State Finalists (including the 50 State Winners) will be displayed in local exhibitions in their respective states.

We’d like to thank the countless teachers, parents and administrators for supporting their young artists as they doodled their way through time for this year’s contest. Please join us in congratulating all participants—they did a fantastic job of inspiring us with their creativity.

Adding an origami doodle to the fold

We’re excited to have Robert J. Lang here to talk about today’s doodle in honor of Akira Yoshizawa. Lang is considered one of the world’s masters of the art of origami. His design techniques are used by origami artists around the world, and he lectures widely on the connections between origami art, science, mathematics and technology. - Ed.

Akira Yoshizawa (1911–2005) is widely regarded as the father of the modern origami art form. Over the course of his life, he created tens of thousands of origami works and pioneered many of the artistic techniques used by modern-day origami artists, most notably the technique of wet-folding, which allowed the use of thick papers and created soft curves, gentle shapes and rounded, organic forms. He also developed a notation for origami that has now been the standard for origami instruction for more than 50 years.

Yoshizawa took up Japan's traditional folk art of origami in his 20s, and eventually left his job at a factory to focus full-time on his origami creations. His work came to the attention of the west in 1955, after an exhibition of his works in Amsterdam, and rapidly spread around the world. In his last decades, he received worldwide renown and invitations from all over, culminating in his award in 1983 of the Order of the Rising Sun.

I had the great fortune to meet Yoshizawa several times. In 1988, he came to New York to visit The Friends of the Origami Center of America, and spoke at a panel discussion I attended. There, he addressed a wide range of topics: one's mental attitude, the importance of character, of natural qualities, of having one's "spirit within [the artwork's] folds." Although he was the consummate artist, his work and approach was infused with the mathematical and geometric underpinnings of origami as well as a deep aesthetic sense:
“My origami creations, in accordance with the laws of nature, require the use of geometry, science, and physics. They also encompass religion, philosophy, and biochemistry. Over all, I want you to discover the joy of creation by your own hand…the possibility of creation from paper is infinite.”
While there were other Japanese artists who explored their country’s folk art contemporaneously with Yoshizawa, his work inspired the world through a combination of grace, beauty, variety and clarity of presentation. To him, each figure, even if folded from the same basic plan, was a unique object with a unique character.

In 1992, I was invited to address the Nippon Origami Association at their annual meeting in Japan, and my hosts arranged for me to meet the great Yoshizawa at his home and studio. When I was ushered into the inner sanctum, Yoshizawa greeted me, grinning, and then proceeded to show me box after box after drawer of the most extraordinarily folded works I had ever seen.

When I was first approached by Google to help create a doodle commemorating Yoshizawa’s work, I jumped at the chance. Google set the parameters of the design: the Google logo, of course, but to be folded with origami and then decorated with examples of Yoshizawa's designs.

I created examples of two logo styles for Google to choose from: one in a classic origami style and a more three-dimensional version based on pleats. Google liked the pleated version, so I set about designing and folding the rest.

Two versions of the Google "G," each folded from a single sheet of paper.

To design these (or any letterform in this style), one can take a narrow strip of paper, fold it back and forth to trace the outline of the desired letter, unfold it, mark the creases, then arrange multiple copies of the strip pattern on a larger rectangle. The resulting crease pattern is moderately complex, and it gives a lovely 3-D form when folded, but conceptually, it is quite straightforward.

If you’d like to try to create your own origami doodle at home, you can download PDFs of the crease patterns for each of the letters. Print them out and fold on the lines: red=valley fold, blue=mountain.


The butterflies in the doodle are folded from one of Yoshizawa's earliest, yet most iconic designs. It is deceptive in its simplicity, but can express great subtlety in its shaping and attitude. The combination of simplicity and depth is part of the essence of origami, and is key to Yoshizawa's work and legacy.

"Geometry alone is not enough to portray human desires, expressions, aspirations, joys. We need more." — Akira Yoshizawa, 1988