National Geographic News
Google's doodle for June 9, 2014.

Contest winner Audrey Zhang calls her doodle "Back to Mother Nature."


Brian Clark Howard

National Geographic

Published June 9, 2014

Monday's featured Google Doodle in the United States is a highly imaginative animation of a fanciful water purification system that was drawn by an 11-year-old student for a contest run by the search engine giant.

The animation features a winged, Steampunk-like machine taking in dirty water and pouring out clean water, another machine picking up litter, a spider sweeping up debris, a smiling whale, a happy human family—Google said it "quickly lost count of all the delightful elements of Audrey's doodle."

The doodle by Audrey Zhang, an 11-year-old from New York, bested more than 100,000 other submissions to come out on top.

For its seventh annual "Doodle 4 Google" competition, the Mountain View, California-based company invited American K-12 students to draw an invention that would make the world a better place.

"To make the world a better place, I invented a transformative water purifier," Zhang wrote about her entry, according to a Google release. "It takes in dirty and polluted water from rivers, lakes, and even oceans, then massively transforms the water into clean, safe and sanitary water, when humans and animals drink this water, they will live a healthier life."

Although real water purification systems don't look quite like Zhang's, there are ways to turn dirty water clean, including reverse osmosis filters, desalination, treatment with ozone or ultraviolet light, and breakdown by beneficial microorganisms. But the processes are typically expensive and remain out of reach for many of the world's poorest people.

According to the United Nations, 783 million people around the world lack access to clean water, while almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six to eight million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

After Google selected Zhang's drawing, the company invited her to HQ to direct its animators for a day and bring the drawing to life.

"She made sure we twinkled each light and cleaned the water just right and took extra care for the illustration's dragons—about whom she is also writing a novel," Google said in its statement.

Zhang won a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for her school., the company's charity arm, also donated $20,000 in her name to charity: water to provide clean water to schools in Bangladesh.

Google also named 250 state finalists, 50 state winners, and five national age group winners.

Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter and Google+.

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Angel Fitzsimmons
Angel Fitzsimmons

Completely fabulous!  I love reading motivational stories of young people inspired to make a positive difference - in themselves and in our world.  Thank you, GOOGLE, and kudos to all the Google Doodlers!  (Miss Zhang, keep us posted on your college aspirations and inspirations!)  PS:  I want prints of everyone's entries!

Teri Buckmaster
Teri Buckmaster

Just wonderful!!  Made me stop what I had gone to Google to look up and sort out how I can get a better view of all the great things going on in this amazing drawing!


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