If you have ever used the search engine on Google’s homepage, then you have experienced the various Google Doodles that highlight a particular event, holiday, achievement, or person. The Doodles are often animated and quite inventive with a hyperlink to the story behind the Doodle.
The Google Doodle has evolved over time, becoming more complex and appearing more frequently. But the original Doodles were neither animated nor hyperlinked. They were merely ingenious images with hovertext describing the content of the image. A hovertext, mouseover, or mouse hover is when you place your cursor or pointer over a trigger area and receive a description or information about the image. Sometimes there are multiple layers to a hovertext; in that case, the cursor or pointer only triggers the uppermost layer.
A characteristic of Google Doodles is that they sometimes feature an event or individual that is not well known to the general public, similar to the trivia answers that are displayed on the TV program Jeopardy! A recent Google Doodle featured just such an event. Most of us had never heard about the Silent Parade of 1917 which took place on New York City’s fashionable Fifth Avenue 100 years ago. But a hyperlink took you to a page that explained the event in detail and connected you to an interactive video with historic film footage and interviews. Perfect for high school social studies teachers!
The first Google Doodle appeared in August 1998 and was designed by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Subsequent Doodles were designed by an outside contractor for the next two years. Then in the year 2000 a team of Google employees known as “Doodlers” published the Doodles. Beginning in 2010 the Doodles became more involved and could be found more frequently. The first animated Doodle appeared in January 2010 honoring Sir Isaac Newton. A few months later, the first interactive Doodle appeared … PAC MAN. Users could actually play the video arcade game with the Google logo. The PAC MAN maze featured the letters from the word “Google” which mimicked the sounds of the original video arcade game. With subsequent Doodles users could strum the strings of a guitar or press a keyboard button to celebrate the birthday of pioneer musician Les Paul. On the 155th birthday of the Pony Express, users could play a two dimensional game collecting mail, avoiding obstacles, and delivering mail from California to Missouri. On Valentine’s Day of this year the Doodle featured a game with an endangered animal where the player had to avoid obstacles. The game offered four different levels. A higher level was released each succeeding day. The first full screen interactive doodle appeared this past June. It celebrated the 117th birthday of musician Oskar Fishinger. The Doodle allowed users to create their own songs by tapping on the screen. Users could then share their songs with others on social media.
Nine years ago Google initiated its Doodle 4 Google contest in the United States. It is a contest open to school children from Kindergarten through senior in high school. The competition is also open to those who are home schooled. Doodle 4 Google is comprised of five entry levels: Kindergarten through third grade; fourth through fifth grade; sixth grade through seventh grade; eighth through ninth grade; and tenth through twelfth grade.
Google selects a theme and invites entrants from throughout the U.S. The 2016/2017 National Winner from Connecticut won a $30,000 college scholarship to the college of her choice, a trip to Google Headquarters in California, a $50,000 technology award for her high school, a Chromebook, an Android tablet, had her Doodle featured on Google’s homepage for one day, and has her Doodle prominently displayed in the Doodle 4 Google gallery. A student from Kentucky in the eighth through ninth grade level was one of the four National Finalists in the 2016/2017 contest. That student along with three other finalists, each received a $5000 college scholarship, a trip to Google headquarters in the San Francisco area, a Chromebook, an Android tablet, and each Doodle is displayed in the Doodle 4 Google gallery, as well. State winners each received an Android tablet and also had their Doodles featured in the Doodle 4 Google gallery.
Although this school year’s Doodle 4 Google contest is not open yet, you can visit the website to review the guidelines and work on some ideas so you can be ready when the contest opens in mid September. The deadline is usually the beginning of December. Visit https://doodles.google.com/d4g/ for contest rules. You may just be the next $30,000 college scholarship winner!
Wanda Dengel, long time local and Columbus inner-city schools teacher, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.