Harrisburg 8th grader wins statewide ‘Google-Doodle’ competition

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- With each pencil stroke, Aneesa Ahmat of Harrisburg lets her sketches speak for her.

Aneesa, an 8th grade student at Harrisburg's Marshall Math Science Academy, has loved drawing since she was as young as she can remember.

"Drawing is a hobby that keeps me calm and relaxed," she says. "I used to draw on the walls at home. I'd get in trouble."

Aneesa is soft-spoken. Maybe even a little shy. She doesn't say much, which is okay, because her art does the talking.

"I like being able to send a message through art," Aneesa says, as she doodles a flower onto a blank piece of white paper.

Aneesa prefers to draw nature -- "It's relaxing," she says -- but a recent venture into deep space might end up the biggest discovery of her young life.

In December, Aneesa went to work on a drawing for a statewide competition sponsored by internet-mogul Google. The competition, called 'Doodle 4 Google', allows students between Kindergarten and 12th grade to draw a banner for Google to use on their home page header. Entrants must base their drawings off the competition's annual theme. This year, artists had to doodle "What I see for the future...."

Aneesa took her idea to space, literally, drawing a collage of rockets, planets, aliens and futuristic cities.

"What I hoped was for us humans to travel in space and to live there," she said.

Aneesa was persistent, if nothing else. She's entered the competition every year since she was in 5th grade. Instead of quitting, she improved her art every year. Recently, Google called her family to inform Aneesa she was Pennsylvania's champion in the 8th-9th grade category.

"She's always exhibited excellence in anything she does," said Marisol Craig, Aneesa's principal at Marshall Math Science Academy.

Aneesa won an android tablet for her state championship, but the big winnings are still to come. By virtue of winning Pennsylvania, she's automatically entered into the national competition against winners her age from 52 other states and territories. People can vote at Doodle4Google.com (Click Cast Your Vote --> Grades 8-9) and select Aneesa's space drawing (4th from the top).

If Aneesa is one of the top five vote-getters, she'll earn a trip to Google headquarters in California, with a chance to win a $30,000 scholarship and $50,000 for her school.

"Wow," Craig exclaimed. "That would mean a lot to us. We really could use that to be able to continue this type of work that we do here and with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)."