Lutz teen named state winner for Doodle 4 Google contest

An inspiration from nature — and a passion for learning — helped Lutz teenager Mark Thivierge craft an award-winning drawing.

Thivierge, 16, was recently named the Florida State Winner of the 2018 Doodle 4 Google competition — one of 53 state and territory winners whose work is displayed in an online gallery on the Doodle 4 Google website.

Lutz teenager Mark Thivierge was recently named the Florida State Winner of the 2018 Doodle 4 Google competition. He is one of 53 state and territory winners whose work is displayed in an online gallery on the Doodle 4 Google website. (Courtesy of Mark Thivierge)

The Doodle 4 Google competition, in its 10th year, is a contest open to kindergarten through 12th grade students across the U.S., to redesign Google’s logo. This year’s theme is “What Inspires Me?”

Thivierge’s doodle, “Inspiration,” features excerpts of his own poetry and music compositions, as well as example of scientific and mathematical innovations, surrounding a map featuring unique geographic landscapes from each of the 50 states.

Thivierge, who is home-schooled, incorporated several state landscapes of places visited into the piece, such as the Florida beach lines, the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

The 10th-grader said: “I get inspired by seeing the nature. It motivates my love to learn and to explore, and to create. Some of the subjects that I’m really interested in were geography, science, mathematics, music and writing, which I all tried to incorporate into the doodle.”

In composing the doodle, Thivierge first outlined a U.S. map. He then filled in each scene from there.

The entire piece was designed using colored pencils and took about 1 ½ months to complete.

Besides notable national landmarks, some other surroundings of the piece were arbitrary. For instance, he penciled dairy farms and green fields across some Midwest states.

He also researched images of other regions and learned how to correctly draw mountains and stalactites.

Thivierge’s doodle, ‘Inspiration,’ features excerpts of his own poetry and music compositions, as well as scientific and mathematical innovations, surrounding a map featuring unique geographic landscapes from each of the 50 states. The piece was designed entirely using colored pencils. The project took about 1 ½ months to complete.

“The landmarks are one thing, but even with the simple things like little plants or fields are nice, as well,” Thivierge said of the types of nature that inspires him.

Though the project “took a long time,” Thivierge said he enjoyed the entire process and its challenges along the way.

Said Thivierge, “The most difficult one was (Montana) because I had to draw the snow in negative (drawing something by drawing around it). I’m proud of that one. I liked (drawing) Texas, as well, and Florida.”

Every year, children and teens from around the country submit illustrations to the Doodle 4 Google contest with the hopes of having their drawing end up on the homepage of the popular search engine.

An estimated 200,000 submissions were received nationwide by the March 2 deadline.

Doodles were judged on artistic merit, creativity and theme communication.

They were grouped and judged across five grade groups — kindergarten through third grade; fourth and fifth grade; sixth and seventh grade; eighth and ninth grade; and 10th through 12th grade.

Submitted pieces were voted on by a panel of judges and Google employees.

Google representatives informed Thivierge’s family in April that he was chosen as Florida’s winner.

He was then recognized with a surprise ceremony on May 3 at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, in Land O’ Lakes, where he is a member of the parish’s Life Teen and homeschool programs, and also serves on the Tech Team ministry and a lector.

A Google representative was at the ceremony, which attracted more than 100 people from the parish.

The Google representative presented Thivierge with a Chromebook, a tote bag and T-shirt imprinted with his doodle.

“It’s an honor,” Thivierge said of having the top doodle in the state. “It was out of sight a little bit. I hadn’t been thinking about it every day, but it came as a surprise.”

It’s the third year Thivierge entered the Doodle 4 Google contest, but fell short of a state award in his previous attempts.

“He didn’t give up. He persevered,” said his mother, Elena Thivierge.

“Hopefully it inspires others that if you want something to pursue it,” she said.

As the top doodle in Florida, Thivierge has advanced to the national finalists round of the Doodle 4 Google contest, where only five state and territory winners will be selected for the final round. Voting for that portion closed on May 18.

From there, a national winner will be decided and will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology grant to a local nonprofit organization, a trip to Google headquarters in California, and the opportunity to have the doodle featured on the Google homepage for one day.

The four national finalists who do not become the national winner will receive a $5,000 college scholarship and a trip to Google headquarters, among other prizes.

Published May 23, 2018

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