A student from Medomak Middle School was named Maine's winner of the ninth annual Doodle 4 Google contest.

Seventh-grader Ruth Havener was honored at a school-wide assembly Monday, Feb. 27, among a sea of primary-colored Google T-shirt wearers. She is one of 53 state and territory winners who have doodled their way to possibly becoming one of five national finalists.

Using whatever materials they desire, students harnessed their creative juices to assemble a doodle that includes spelling out the word "Google," based on this year's theme "What I see for the future."

Havener's doodle is called "The Same Ocean in the Future." The caption reads, "What I see for the future is the same ocean with all of its beautiful creatures, staying in the wondrous places I know today."

MMS art teacher Libbie Winslow said Havener, a member of the gifted art program, got involved with the contest because Winslow requires her students to enter at least one contest per year.

"Whales and sharks have been Ruth's interests," Winslow said.

Havener chose colored pencils as the medium for her drawing, which took her only about six hours over the course of two weeks.

"We had nothing to do with it," Havener's parents, Cecily and Andrew, said prior to the ceremony. Cecily said, "She said 'Mom, there's no way I'm going to win.'"

Following the ceremony, Ruth admitted, "You never know until you try."

She said her interest in whales and sharks was piqued by an article she read on the diminishing numbers of the species, and she hopes to help protect them with her ongoing project.

"We are thrilled to be able to celebrate Ruth and her accomplishment," Principal Katherine Race said. "I love these kids, and this is just one example of their many talents."

On hand from all the way from California were Izzy Parkinson and Mark Trojanovski, representing the virtual reality and marketing departments of Google, respectively.

“Ruth’s creativity and artistic ability make Maine proud and we’re all rooting for her in the national competition. It’s great to see Ruth and the entire Medomak Middle School take advantage of the promise of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative and work to develop strong skills in STEM learning," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said in a video message during the assembly.

Chris Rector, representing King's office, made a special announcement that the Maine Legislature plans on adding "art" to the current Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM program, so it will now be known as STEAM.

The annual contest pits K-12 artists from across the nation against each other, and their creations are evaluated and scored by a panel of guest judges.

This year's judges were: singer/songwriter Sia; world champion and gold medal gymnast Simone Biles; Pokemon's Pikachu; talk show host Jimmy Kimmel; animator Floyd Norman; writer/director Brenda Chapman; and Tracy Drain, a flight systems engineer.

The top five state and territory winners in each grade group (K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12) move on as national finalists, and their doodles will be judged by a panel of Google employees, with one becoming the national winner.

The five national finalists will spend the day at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., for an award ceremony March 31 to announce the winner prior to their doodles going live on the Google.com homepage.

The public has between now and Monday, March 6, at 5 p.m. to vote for their favorite doodle; to do so, visit google.com/doodle4google.

Along with seeing his or her doodle live on Google, the national winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship; a $50,000 Google for Education Technology grant towards the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program at his or her school; a Chromebook; and an Android tablet.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.