Madison J. Lee's vision of the future includes hoverboards, robot servants, extra-terrestrials visiting Earth and a human colony on Mars.
Lee, a fourth-grader at Black Forest Hills Elementary School, sketched out her predictions in vivid detail using pencil, pen and watercolors. She was one of hundreds of Colorado K-12 students to submit an illustration for this year's Google Doodles competition, an annual contest seeking original artwork for the popular search engine's homepage. Lee's take on this year's theme – "What I See For the Future" – beat out all other contestants from the state. During a ceremony held at the school on Feb. 23, Lee discovered her colorful portrait of spaceships, flying cars, aliens and automatons had picked up Colorado's top prize.
"Madison is our winner for all of Colorado," announced Ross Seeman, an account strategist for Google and a traveling representative for the company's Doodles contest. Seeman and other Google employees joined Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the school for the official announcement. "The criteria for this contest was uniqueness, creativity, relevance to our theme and artistic talent and ability … Madison's doodle spoke about innovation."
The news came as a surprise for all of the hundreds of Black Forest Hills students gathered in the school gym – including Lee herself.
"I was so excited and I was so happy. It was a total surprise," Lee said after the ceremony, joined by her parents and by hundreds of cheering classmates. "I search on Google all the time and it's a company I look up to."
The contest drew entries from all 50 states, as well as three U.S. territories. Judges for the competition included talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, U.S. Olympic Athlete Simone Biles, Musician Sia and NASA Mechanical Engineer Tracy Drain. As the winner of the Colorado contest, Lee will automatically be in the running for the national contest. The winner of that competition will see their design featured on the Google homepage for a day and earn a visit to the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Supporters can cast their vote for Lee's design at doodles.google.com/d4g.
The national prize still seemed like a faraway prospect for Madison as she took in the good news on Feb. 24. With a crowd of students, teachers and family members offering congratulations and praise all at once, she did her best to offer her thanks. She sported a T-shirt with her winning design emblazoned on the front, and stood in front of a color placard bearing the same image.
As the gym erupted in coordinated chants of "MADISON! MADISON! MADISON!," the fourth-grader smiled broadly and reflected on the theme that inspired her first drawings.
"I thought about the future and I thought that it would be cool to have all these things, like hoverboards and flying cars and robot people cleaning your house. That's what I drew," she said, adding that the support of her art teacher and classmates helped her creative process run smoothly. "When I first gave the design to my art teacher, everybody oohed and aahed … They really liked it," she added with a laugh.
A panel of judges that included TV stars, scientists and artists apparently agreed. Whether or not the future of the human race will include flying automobiles and friendly robots, Madison J. Lee's present features stunning artistic achievement.
To vote for Madison's design for the national prize, log on to doodles.google.com/d4g and click on GRADES 4-5
Read more about Madison's achievement here: