CAPE ELIZABETH — Standing on stage before a few hundred of her fellow students at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, eighth-grader Isabel Robertson listened to the guy from Google rattle off the potential prizes if her drawing is selected as the winner of a doodling contest involving the Internet search engine’s logo:

Her artwork featured on Google’s home page for 24 hours on May 18.

A $30,000 scholarship to the college of her choice.

A $50,000 technology grant to her school for a new computer lab.

So, he asked, what would you be most excited about?

Isabel considered the question thoughtfully, tilted her head and spoke not of material rewards, but of the opportunity to view the submissions from the other 49 state finalists, who will gather in New York City in two weeks as guests of Google.

“I’m going to be very happy to see other people’s drawings,” said Isabel, who will be accompanied on the three-day trip by her mother, Asch Gregory, while her father, John Robertson, remains in Maine with her brother, a sixth-grader.

Isabel also mentioned a potential trip to the Empire State Building, “but my mom’s kind of afraid of it, so we’ll see how that goes.”

This is the fifth year of Google’s competition, which is open to U.S. students in kindergarten through 12th grade. More than 114,000 entries were submitted, including 155 from Cape Elizabeth Middle School.

“I had trepidations, because contests are difficult; it kind of squashes creativity,” said Marguerite Lawler-Rohner, an art teacher at the school who learned of the contest through the school’s technology coordinators. “But when I saw $30,000 for the student and $50,000 for the school, I said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it.’ “

Lawler-Rohner and physical education teacher Andy Strout handed out Google T-shirts in bold green, blue, red and yellow to the other 154 students who submitted artwork for the contest.

Isabel wore a white T-shirt with her design on the front. The company also arranged for a 3-foot-by-5-foot blowup of her drawing festooned with 28 mylar balloons of various sizes for Wednesday morning’s schoolwide assembly.

The theme of this year’s contest is, “If I could travel in time, I’d visit …”

Isabel opted against the past (dinosaurs might eat you) and the future (everything covered in chrome) and opted for the present. Or, at least, a present inspired by a summer’s day a few years ago, while she played with her good friend Katie Connelly in a favorite patch of woods near Maxwell’s Farm.

“We would always go out when the forest was really lush and the ferns were growing,” Isabel said. “One time me and Katie were there alone. We were lying down on this hill. We had just built a fort over our heads and we looked out and saw two deer come in (to a clearing). It’s an image that stays in your mind for a lifetime. It’s just so beautiful.”

In Isabel’s drawing, a deer’s antlers form the “e” in Google. A red wolf, the eyes of a raccoon, a raven, a bunny, a butterfly, a cocoon, eggs in a nest, a colorful bird carrying worms to the nest and two trees also animate the drawing, sketched with graphite and watercolor pencils.

“This is uniquely Isabel,” Lawler-Rohner said. “She’s quiet, she’s confident and she’s very artistic.”

There are 10 national finalists from each of five grade categories (K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12). If Isabel’s entry receives the most online votes among the 8th- and 9th-grade artwork, she will be named one of five national finalists and receive at least a $5,000 college scholarship and a digital design tablet.

As the Google guys – one in marketing and the other in sales – showed off some of the search engine’s features to the assembled students, Lawler-Rohner was asked about potential commercial exploitation.

“The middle schooler’s attention span is probably three minutes,” she said. “No, I’m not concerned about it because this is their culture. They’re bombarded by media. It’s a different world they’re growing up in.”

Besides, she said, “they can be as commercial as they want to be if she wins that $30,000 (scholarship).”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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Twitter: GlennJordanPPH