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A 7-year-old girl’s $30,000 Google Doodle was drawn during a power outage

Sarah Gomez-Lane / Google
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Great things can happen when the screens are turned off during a power outage.

The first-grader who won the US edition of this year’s Doodle 4 Google art contest with a charming paleontology-themed colored pencil drawing created it when her family’s electricity was knocked out by a snowstorm in March. Seven-year-old Sarah Lane-Gomez, from Falls Church, Virginia drew a sampler of prehistoric reptiles to spell “Google.” The judging panel, helmed by actor Neil Patrick Harris and celebrated humanities teacher Sydney Chaffee, chose Lane-Gomez’s dino-doodle over the 180,000 other entries created by students enrolled in grades K-12 schools in the US.

Lane-Gomez’s mother, Maria Lane-Gomez, says that not having electronic gadgets around that day played a role in her daughter’s imagination. Their home had lost electricity during the so-called “Monster Nor’Easter” in early March. Dubbed a “bomb cyclone,” the snowstorm struck Washington DC and northern Virginia, and Lane-Gomez and thousands of other children had a snow day off school. In search of something for her daughter to do, Maria scanned her phone (which was still working) and stumbled upon the Google student art contest.

Responding to this year’s theme, “What Inspires Me,” Lane-Gomez’s mind immediately went to her favorite creatures. “The things on my Doodle are my favorite dinosaurs,” she wrote in the submission. “Dinosaurs inspire me to study more to be a paleontologist. The shovel is for my future job!”

The contest’s deadline, March 2, was that night, so there was no time to spare. Lane-Gomez worked hard all day, and as night fell, without lights at home, her parents drove her to a restaurant to finish up. “We had to go to the Applebee’s on East Broad Street, and then when the power went out there, we went to the Elevation Burger on Washington Street in order for her to finish up her drawing in time for us to send it late that night,” her mother told the local paper, the Falls Church News-Press. “It really was a lucky break, I don’t know if we would’ve had time for any of that had the power stayed on.” They submitted the entry just in time.

The artwork, as well as Lane-Gomez’s explanation of it, struck the judges. “We immediately fell in love with Sarah’s creative interpretation of the ‘D4G’ theme, her use of dinosaurs to depict the Google logo, and her big ambitions for her future career, especially at such a young age,” Google said in announcing the winner. “We hope that her design will inspire other students to explore aspects of STEM or the arts that spark their imagination.”

An animated version of Lane-Gomez’s winning doodle will be displayed on Google’s homepage later this year. She was awarded a $30,000 scholarship money and her school, Pine Spring Elementary School, will receive a $50,000 technology package.

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