In February we invited U.S. kids to exercise their creativity by participating in our second annual Doodle 4 Google contest. In response, we received more than 28,000 doodles from kids representing all 50 states, a 70 percent increase from last year. Inspired by this year's theme, "What I Wish for the World," kids have expressed a variety of wishes, ranging from a world with a pristine environment to a world where imaginations can run free. We were impressed by the incredible spectrum of artwork we received this year, but even more amazed by the artistic talents of the kids who created them. Thanks to all those who doodled with us!

Today, we're pleased to announce the approximately 400 state finalists and the 40 regional winners. They were chosen by a panel of independent judges, all experts in design, but now it's your turn. We invite you to help us select the four national finalists by voting on your favorite doodle in each grade group. You can place your votes on the Doodle 4 Google website until May 18 at midnight Pacific time. We'll announce the results — along with the winner — on May 20th, and the winning doodle will appear on our homepage the following day. If you happen to be visiting New York City, you can drop in and see the doodles of all 40 finalists in an exhibit at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, which will run May 21 - July 5, 2009.

So please take a look at our regional winners' inspiring doodles, vote on your favorites, and help us decide which of these great doodles will be seen on the Google homepage by millions of people around the world.

Update @ 10:00 AM PST: This post was revised to more accurately reflect the number of state finalists.

Update on May 20, 2009 @ 10:45 AM: We've posted all of the state finalists — several hundred doodles in all —on the Doodle 4 Google website and we encourage you to take a look at the beautiful artwork created by these very talented young artists.