Local schoolchildren finalists in Google Doodle contest 

When 7-year-old Matteo Lopez of South San Francisco grows up, he wants to become an astronaut and explore space.

Albert Pei, 10, of Union City, has a very different dream: to become a painter.

The two boys have at least one thing in common, though. Both are finalists in the national "Doodle 4 Google" logo design contest and are now competing online for a $15,000 scholarship and $25,000 school technology

Matteo and Albert are among 40 regional finalists whittled down from 107,000 K-12 students nationwide who redesigned Google's logo to incorporate the theme "What I'd like to do someday."

Four finalists -- one from each age group -- will be chosen by Internet voters, who have until May 13 to cast their picks. On May 19, one overall winner will be announced.

Matteo, a second grader at Monte Verde Elementary School in San Bruno, worked on his entry for three weeks, his principal, Debby Mirt, said.

His drawing features a G-shaped space monster eating Earth, which makes up the first O in Google. An astronaut, lunar lander, Apollo rocket, and asteroid round out the remaining normally plain letters.

Matteo said his logo was inspired by Neil Armstrong.

"I like all the planets," he said. "I like a lot of (space) stuff. I want to be an astronaut."

The second grader also said he wants to study science at Stanford University, but that he has been drawing since he was about 3 years old.

He likes to draw cartoon characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants and the Mario Bros., and his dad also likes to draw, he said.

"We're extremely proud of him," Mirt said.

Google contacted the 40 finalists on April 22 and then held 40 separate school assemblies on May 4 to announce the winners to their communities, company spokeswoman Anne Espiritu said.

The winners were given T-shirts and enlarged prints of the logos they designed.

"It was hard keeping the secret," Mirt said. "The kids were excited ... it could not have happened to a nicer family. Matteo's just a sweet boy."

Albert, a finalist in the 4th through 6th grade age group, attends Delaine Eastin Elementary School in Union City.

"What I'd like to do someday is to be a painter," he wrote in a statement accompanying his logo that each student had to submit. "I doodled some painting supplies, such as a painting, a brush, a can of paint, etc. My doodle shows that I want to be an artist one day."

He incorporated shading and perspective into his design to make the letters three dimensional, and included partial mirror images of them.

Representatives for his school could not be reached.

Espiritu said the original 107,000 submissions were scored by Google staff based on artistic merit, creativity, theme communication and the supporting statement.

The 400 remaining finalists were then evaluated by guest judges such as Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Phelps, author Beverly Cleary and Garfield cartoon creator Jim Davis.

Once online voters narrow it down to the four finalists, the winner will then be selected by the Google Doodles staff and other company executives, Espiritu said.

In addition to the cash prizes, the winner will be flown to New York for an awards ceremony, receive a free laptop and tablet computer, and have his or her design displayed on the Google homepage for 24 hours.

That means hundreds of millions of people using Google's search services could view the student's doodle, Espiritu said.

"Basically it's our way of inspiring kids to dream big and think big," she said.

Information about voting is available at http://www.google.com/doodle4google/.

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