Google is renowned for its practice of recognizing important anniversaries and famous people from human history prominently on the main Google homepage. The company calls it Google Doodle —an 11-year-old tradition to educate visitors on historic events and people through the power of search. Clicking a Doodle logo for, say, Nikola Tesla, will simply take one to the search result’s page populated with links to popular articles about the famous inventor.

The first Google Doodle was in recognition of the Burning Man Festival of 1998 and was designed by cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Subsequent Doodles were designed by outside designers, often by Dennis Hwang who created most Doodles to date. Today, the search company’s Vice President of Product Management Marissa Mayer issued an invitation to all K through 12 students to apply for the fifth annual United States Doodle 4 Google contest…

The contest to redesign Google’s homepage logo around the theme “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” is available at www.google.com/doodle4google. Applicants are invited to send their work by March 20 (last year, a whopping 107,000 students applied). Google gets to choose one winner from every state and five finalists, so every state will have its local Doodle champion. In addition, five national finalists and the national winner will be picked from the 50 state winners. We should also mention that the 50 state winners will be put up for public vote on May 2 and all of them will be flown to New York City for the national awards ceremony on May 17.

Along with bragging rights, the national winner will see his or her work adorn the Google homepage on May 18, take home cool prizes and have his or her artwork appear on a limited edition of Crayola’s iconic 64 box. Doodles will be judged based on artistic merit, creativity and theme communication (how well the theme is expressed in the artwork and the supporting statement). As for the Doodles by the 50 state winners, Google promised to display their work at The New York Public Library‘s historic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street in an exhibition open to the public over the summer

A panel of guest judges will include actors, singers, illustrators and cartoonists, including singer Katy Perry, singer and actress Jordin Sparks; Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, creator and executive producer of “Phineas and Ferb”; Mo Willems, creator of the Knufflebunny series; Holly Black, author of the Spiderwick Chronicles; Tony DiTerlizzi, illustrator of the Spiderwick Chronicles; Jack Martin, assistant director for Public Programs; and, Lifelong Learning for Children, Teens and Families at The New York Public Library and Brian Nemeckay Crayola’s digital design creative director. Here is a nice Christmas 2011 Google Doodle for you. The complete gallery spanning 11 years of Google Doodles is available here.

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