Internet search giant Google Inc. on Wednesday kicked off the fourth annual Doodle 4 Google contest, a competition that calls on K-12 students in the U.S. to think big and redesign Google's homepage doodle logo, inspired by the theme 'What I'd like to do someday...'.

In return for doodle, Google will grant the winning student artist $15,000 scholarship and $25,000 technology grant for their school, among many other prizes. Registration closes at on March 2, and entries must be postmarked by March 16.

Google is looking forward to the designs that the students are going to submit. The winning doodle will be featured on Google's homepage on May 20, 2011.

In the spirit of thinking big, our theme this year is 'What I’d like to do someday...' -- giving all of the talented young dreamers an opportunity to flex their creative muscles. We know this crop of students will be the generation of tomorrow’s leaders and inventors, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with, said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president, consumer products.

Contest

In response to why the theme was selected, Google said it wanted to give students a blank canvas to dream big for their future, and this open ended focus is intended to encourage creative, inspiring, and fun ideas and designs.

Google stated some potential examples of this year's theme are: What I'd like to do someday… Become a doctor with my own TV show; …Invent rocket shoes that let you fly; …Open a zoo for the world’s endangered animals.

Google altered the contest rules slightly this year based on previously received feedback. Now, in addition to schools, parents or legal guardians can directly register their K-12 students in the contest and submit their doodles. While there's no limit on the number of doodles that will be accepted, Google only allows one entry per student.

Google is also working with two After School Programs - Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Girl Scouts of the USA - to register students. In addition, there is no cap or restriction on how many doodles each school, After School Program, or family can send in, but only one condition where only one doodle per student is allowed.

This year, a panel of Google employees and celebrity judges -- including American comedian actress Whoopi Goldberg, gold medalist ice skater Evan Frank Lysacek, comic strip 'Garfield' creator James Robert Davis and several other well known cartoonists, animators and illustrators -- will lessen the submissions to the top 40 regional finalists.

Google will be judging doodles submitted by students in the following grade groups: Grades K-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9, and Grades 10-12. The student doodle should be presented on a white, landscape sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch paper, with the Google logo clearly visible and recognizable, Google said in a statement.

Google has restricted students by giving a few design guidelines: the student doodle should be done in pencil, crayon, felt tip, paint or by using computer drawing or design software, and entries that use additional materials to create 3D effects will not be accepted.

While we encourage your students or children to use the work of Dennis Hwang, our original doodler or other previous Doodle artists and winners as inspiration, we remind participants not to recreate or plagiarize previous designs. We keep all the original artwork and do not send it back; if you want a copy of your student or child’s doodle, make a color copy of it before you mail it in, Google said.

The top 40 regional finalists will not only receive a trip to New York City and a visit from Google in their hometown, but their artwork will be featured in a special exhibition in New York City in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art, the country's leading museum of American art.

The 2010 National Winner for Doodle 4 Google was Makenzie Melton, a third grader at El Dorado Springs, R-2 Schools in El Dorado Springs, Missouri. She titled her doodle 'Rainforest Habitat' to express her concern that “the rainforest is in danger.” Makenzie’s design was selected from more than 33,000 student submissions from all over the country.

The three National Finalists were: Raymundo Marquez, a sixth grader at Nellie Mae Glass Elementary, Eagle Pass, Texas; Vance Viggiano, a seventh grader at Heritage Home School Academy, Long Valley, New Jersey; and Bevan Schiffli, a eleventh grader at Highlands School, Highlands, North Carolina.

Google Doodle

The concept of the doodle was born in 1998 when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.

A year later in 2000, Larry and Sergey asked current webmaster Dennis Hwang, an intern at the time, to produce a doodle for Bastille Day. Pleased with the result, Dennis was then appointed Google’s chief doodler and doodles became a regular occurrence on the Google homepage.

Initially, the doodles tended to celebrate largely visible holidays. Currently, however, doodles represent a wide array of events and anniversaries from the Olympics to the Mars Rover landing. The doodle team has created over 300 doodles for Google.com in the United States and over 700 have been designed internationally.

In 2011, Google has so far created five doodles for occasions namely Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day; India's Makara Sankranti; Japan's holiday Coming of Age Day; Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer Khalil Gibran's birthday; and New Year Day with Roman number MMXI (2011) featuring fireworks along with G and E.

On December 23, 2010, Google launched their holiday logo to celebrate Christmas. The logo was a combination of 17 images with each image referring to a cuisine, an instrument or a place, such as Nepal. For full story please click here.