Food, space, and coffee inspire student doodles


It is not just about the Astronaut floating across the star-studded galaxy. It is also about the attachment chord swirling into a ‘g.’

It is not just about the yellow Eggo box that sits patiently in the freezer, awaiting breakfast-time. It is also about the iconic red logo twisting into another word containing ‘e’ ‘g’ and ‘o.’

These two drastically different images hold one familiar message in common. They are both intended for Google’s Doodle 4 Google contest, which accepts entries from students K-12 across the nation every year. Art teacher Gillian Bailey asked all of her classes to start off the spring semester by entering this contest.

Space and waffles served as inspiration for freshmen Athena Cheng and Sam Nooney’s entries into the annual contest. They both followed the contest’s prompt: “What inspires you?” as they creatively incorporated the word ‘Google’ into each of their respective doodles.

“I like that the prompt is really personal for the student, and that the student isn’t thinking about what somebody else would expect to see,” Bailey said.

The contest’s judges – including actor Neil Patrick Harris, US Olympic Gymnast Laurie Hernandez, and former Major League Baseball player Carlos Beltrán – will choose the student who they feel most successfully fulfills the prompt. The winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology package for their school.

“The National Winner will have a behind-the-scenes experience with the Doodle team to transform their Doodle into an interactive experience on,” according to the Doodle 4 Google website.

Bailey said that the personal nature of the contest’s prompt serves as a great way for her to learn more about her students.
“I don’t always know that a certain summer experience at a camp, or that a certain combination of sports is what really inspires people,” Bailey said.

Bailey said that students also learn a lot about each other because the project allows them to get past the fear of being judged about their interests.

“They’re all being very vulnerable and putting that on paper,” Bailey said. “I think that some people might realize that they have a lot more in common than they thought.”

For most students, however, doodling takes place outside of art class. Whether it is above a math problem, in the margins of a handout, or in the tiny squares on graph paper, students find a way to doodle-away.

“I like drawing people’s eyes,” sophomore Julie Ray said. “Or I will draw just the nose and mouth, but usually not a whole face.”

While teachers may think that doodles distract from the content of their classes, according to Psychology Today, they do just the opposite.

“Doodlers are actually not ‘spacing out,’ but are at least somewhat ‘in the moment,’” Psychology Today writer Cathy Malchiodi said.

Junior Olivia Wiebe said that she views doodling as a way to help her refocus in class when she starts to feel bored.

“It is almost like taking a break in the middle of class and then you come back reenergized,” Wiebe said.

The adult coloring book and extreme dot-to-dot movements indicate the meditative effect of doodling, Bailey said.

“It is almost like the idea of yoga, where all of your muscles and your focus is on the thing,” Bailey said. “So it is a break, a relaxation thing, a reset button almost, and it can be fun.”

Bailey said that doodling also serves as a medium for subconscious artistic expression because there is no fear of judgement.

“I think when you are trying to make something pretty, you lose a lot of that authenticity,” Wiebe said.

In lieu of being glued to one’s phone, Bailey said that she wishes more people would doodle, regardless of their drawing experience.

“I feel like people will go straight to Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram rather than create their own thing,” Bailey said.

Wiebe said that doodling has served as a bonding experience for her as well.

“I remember my friend and I, in fourth grade, used to draw little stories on the back of our math sheets,” said Wiebe. “We would make little comics and that was really fun and it helps you kind of bond.”

Whether doodling for Google, or on a math test, Bailey has one message:
“Doodle away.”