DADE CITY — Whether it's painting Georgia O'Keeffe-type flowers on a black lacquered bedside table or taking field trips to paint watercolors of the buildings in downtown Dade City, art teacher Leslie Platt is always looking for creative outlets for her students at Centennial Middle School.
So when Danny Sesker, the instructional technology specialist at Centennial, told her about the "Doodle 4 Google" contest, she bit.
After all, landing the national prize of having your artwork posted for a day on a computer search engine used by millions of people would certainly be an awesome exhibit for any kid.
"I looked it up and said, 'Cool,' " Platt said, adding that the possibility of one of her students winning a $10,000 scholarship, a $25,000 school grant for a computer lab and some other prizes was especially enticing.
The search engine sometimes displays special designs interlaced with the logo at the top of its home page to commemorate famous birthdays (such as Dr. Seuss and Monet) and holidays. These creations are the brainchild of Google Web master Dennis Hwang.
Some of the most recent doodles were rolled out in honor of St. Patrick's Day and the first day of spring.
But student contest doodles aren't the holiday sort. Entrants are asked to stretch the imagination a bit and draft designs to the theme "What if … ?"
More than 40 art students took Platt up on the voluntary Google doodle assignment, and they came up with some good stuff, she said.
"What if I were a fish … ?"
"What if I went to Mars … ?"
"What if I were on a million-dollar bill … ?"
Following contest rules, Platt had to narrow the field down to six Centennial students: Sierra Bahr, 12; Taylor DiCiolla, 13; Rachel Osborne, 11; Daniel Robin, 12; Wesley Beyer, 11; and Will Waselewski, 12.
These students will vie for state finalist spots chosen by independent judges and Google employees.
From those, 40 regional winners will be notified May 7 and invited to the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., for a May 21 awards ceremony and the announcement of national winners. The public will get to vote online for four national finalists from May 12-18.