East Silver Spring student, 10, wins a Google doodle contest; will compete for top prize


Shashi Arnold, 10, a fifth-grader at East Silver Spring, will represent Maryland in the national Doodle4Google contest. Arnold's "Imagination Transportation" Doodle was one of 100,000 entries submitted nationally. (Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post)

Ten-year-old Shashi Arnold is a self-proclaimed doodler who wants to become an author and illustrator when she grows up.

In the meantime, some of her artwork might soon be available for all the world to see.

Really — the whole world.

Shashi, a fifth-grader at East Silver Spring Elementary School in Montgomery County, was named the Maryland-D.C. winner of the Doodle 4 Google contest, making her doodle eligible to be displayed on the Google Web site’s home page this summer. Her entry was selected from among 100,000 submitted nationwide.

Shashi and other state winners will fly to Google headquarters in California next month, where five finalists will be announced and the grand prize winner selected.

If chosen the national winner, she’ll receive a $30,000 college scholarship to be used at the college of her choice, and East Silver Spring Elementary will get a $50,000 technology grant to expand or enhance its technology offerings.

“This is just a wonderful experience,” said Adrienne Morrow, East Silver Spring’s principal. “She works hard, and it shows hard work pays off. We’re just excited that she got the recognition.”

Told that the state winner was in their gymnasium Tuesday, about 200 of the students repeatedly pounded their thighs to create the sound of a drumroll.

Clive de Freitas, a Google representative, called Shashi to the front and pulled a blue sheet off a four-foot fixture displaying a blown-up version of “Imagination Transportation,” her winning entry for the contest’s 2014 theme, which was, “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place.”

Shashi’s drawing depicts three girls, wearing colorful scarves and glasses, flying in cardboard boxes. A smiling sun shines in the background.

Shashi said she was inspired by her own imagination.

“When I was younger, I liked to play with boxes and pretend like I was in outer space,” Shashi said.

“I think that’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Kara Carter, who also works at Google, told the crowd of screaming students as they looked at Shashi’s drawing beneath dozens of red, yellow, green and blue balloons.

Moments earlier, Carter demonstrated how Google Voice Search can help them find definitions of words — including supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or extraordinarily good or wonderful.

Shashi, a bit shy amid all the attention, said she was surprised that her entry was chosen as a winner. Her parents, who are both artists, learned about the accomplishment two weeks ago but kept it a secret. Her family surprised her with a banner and balloons.

“She has been drawing since she was able to hold a pencil,” said Jaylene Arnold, Shashi’s mother. “Every day, she draws. She has kept a sense of imagination, even as she gets older, which is great.”

When Shashi isn’t drawing, she loves to write. Her favorite classes: Reading and art.

“She is an enormously talented artist,” said Victoria Wenger, her art teacher. “Words really can’t express how talented she is.”

The Google judges selected Shashi’s work for its creativity, its uniqueness and how well it brought the year’s theme to life.

Whether or not Shashi’s doodle gets a worldwide audience, East Silver Spring is already getting a good look at her drawing. Each of the school’s students received a T-shirt with Shashi’s “Imagination Transportation” Google doodle on the front as well as a small sketch pad so they could do some doodling of their own.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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