May 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM ET
This year’s Doodle 4 Google competition is at an end, and after 5 million votes and 107,000 submissions, seven-year-old Matteo Lopez of South San Francisco, Calif. emerged as the national winner with “Space Life.” The Monte Verde Elementary School second-grader, whose inspiration is astronaut Neil Armstrong, told TODAY that his dream is to "meet other people in different planets and go to other planets I haven't been to ... I've only been to Earth."
Check out the little guy, who thoroughly charmed the ladies of TODAY:
For his drawing, which will be featured on the search engine's U.S. homepage all day today, he receives a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook computer and a $25,000 technology grant for his school.
Matteo shows the unabashed pride he has in his own hard work: "I drew with color pencils and drew it for 3 weeks and threw out lots of paper until I got it perfect." While he liked other entries, he told TODAY, "I like mine the best."
In this fourth annual version of this contest, which began January 19, kids sent entries from all over the country with their hand-drawn renderings of the Google logo. This year's theme is "What I'd Like To Do Someday," which prompted Matteo's imagination about the world beyond ours.
Matteo beat out kids more than twice his age, as submissions ran from grades K-12, who swamped the competition with three times as many entries as Google received last year.
A panel of celebrity judges — which this year included Whoopi Goldberg, Olympic ice skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek (who was not the only Olympian judge, with swimmer Michael Phelps also in the mix) and beloved children's author Beverly Cleary — narrowed the entries down to 400 State Finalists in four grade appropriate groups of 100 (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12), who are then narrowed down to 40 Regional Winners. They judged based on the following criteria:
Each Regional Winner receieved a visit from a Google employee to their school, and were also flown to New York for yesterday's announcement of the national winner. It was Matteo's first time in the Big Apple, and he enjoyed going to the M&M store and Times Square.
Matteo's work joins the gallery of Google doodles that regularly toss a little variety in the simple logo that has become such a part of our daily lives. Recently, Google doodles have riffed on American dance icon Martha Graham, illustrator/author Roger Hargreaves and author Agatha Christie. Kids no doubt were able to draw at least some inspiration for the contest from these past logos.
The doodle team has created over 300 doodles for Google.com in the U.S., while the world has seen more than 700 designs.