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Red River students work on art project for Google

Betsy Thaden stood in front of her art class at Red River High School on Wednesday and told her students how when she was school age, thick, heavy encyclopedias were the foremost collection of information. Thaden never would have predicted that s...

Harka Tamang colors in his rough draft copy during Monday afternoon's class. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
Harka Tamang colors in his rough draft copy during Monday afternoon's class. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

Betsy Thaden stood in front of her art class at Red River High School on Wednesday and told her students how when she was school age, thick, heavy encyclopedias were the foremost collection of information. Thaden never would have predicted that some day, that world of information would fit in her and her students' pockets.

So as she explained the day's art project, she told her students to push the limits of their imaginations.

"You need to think beyond these four walls," she said.

They were working on their submissions for the national yearly Doodle 4 Google contest. Each year Google chooses a theme for students across the nation to create art pieces around. This year's theme is "What I see for the future."

Thaden said Google intentionally chooses difficult themes.

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"They're broad enough that (the students) really have to think," she said. She recalled the theme from 2014's contest, "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place."

Thaden's favorite part of the contest is picking her students' brains about their ideas.

"A lot of times they'll come up with things that I've never thought of."

Science and space exploration were common motifs inspiring her students' doodles this year.

"I feel like we're going to be able to reach immortality soon," said senior Logan Taylor, indicating his drawing. He said the extending the longevity of life is linked to advancements in understanding DNA. Taylor's submission also included his vision for the future of video games, space travel and chemistry.

Students also must give their submissions titles of 10 words or less and descriptions of no more than 50 words. Taylor said he found coming up with a title even more difficult than the drawing itself. "You can't make it too cliche. It's got to be a little creative."

Senior Milan Bhattarai incorporated a social message into his drawing, filled with galaxies and aliens to represent people finding life elsewhere and being able to coexist.

"World peace; all the countries unite," he said. He filled the "e" in "Google" with several flags from different countries, and he called his piece "United." "It's the best-case scenario in my mind."

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Red River has had three students win the contest for North Dakota in the past five years. Thaden said entries from around the nation are judged on how creative the ideas are, which gives students from all grade levels a chance to win.

"They don't always look at the quality of the artwork," she said. "I think they look at the substance."

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