New Space and Tech


By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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NASA has announced the winners of the 2010 NASA OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award. The contest encouraged students to produce short, creative videos about their favorite technology from NASA’s Spinoff 2009 Publication. NASA collaborated with Hasbro using the correlation between the popular TRANSFORMERS brand, featuring its leader OPTIMUS PRIME, and spinoffs from NASA technologies created for aeronautics and space missions used here on Earth. The goal was to help students understand how NASA technology ‘transforms’ into things used daily.
Student submissions were split into two age categories, third through fifth grades and sixth through eighth grades. The videos were posted on YouTube, and members of the public voted for their favorites. A panel of NASA judges reviewed the top five videos in each age category and selected two winners.

The winning video for third through fifth grades was based on the 2009 Spinoff story originating from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, “Fabrics Protect Sensitive Skin from UV Rays.” It is about how NASA technology used in clothing is helping to protect the wearer’s skin against exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.

The winner for sixth through eighth grades was based on the 2009 Spinoff story originating from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., “Star-Mapping Tools Enable Tracking of Endangered Animals.” It is about how a star-mapping algorithm used on the Hubble Space Telescope is helping scientists track endangered animals.

“We are so proud and impressed with the job the students did on their videos,” said Nona Cheeks, head of Goddard’s Innovative Partnerships Program Office. “Based on the students’ creativity in developing cool, comprehensive videos demonstrating their understanding of how NASA technology gets used for many purposes, I am very excited by the potential for future contests.”

NASA will recognize the winning videos during a special awards ceremony with Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 12. The winners will receive the NASA OPTIMUS PRIME trophy during the ceremony.

NASA plans to have the contest again this year, expanding the pool of contestants to ninth through 12th graders with videos about technologies from 2010. Details will be available in May. For more information about the contest and to see the winning videos, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Spinoff publication, visit:

OPTIMUS PRIME is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. and is used with permission. (c) 2011 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.