A Germantown, Md., student was chosen as one of 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.

The winning video for sixth through eighth grades was created by “Dahlia” Senthilnathan Huh of the Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, Md. Huh created a winning video based on a story from NASA’s Spinoff 2009 publication called “Star-Mapping Tools Enable Tracking of Endangered Animals.” It is about how a star-mapping algorithm used to analyze Hubble Space Telescope imagery is helping scientists track endangered animals. Huh’s video was one of two winners. The other winner was in the third to fifth grade category.

“Dahlia has beautifully blended the elements of this story: vulnerable animals, our desire to protect and learn more about them, and the ability of technology — even from as far afield as astronomy — to make it possible. Dahlia has captured it all,” said Zaven Arzoumanian of the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “Her video truly connects the dots!” Zaven is the Goddard innovator whose work with EcoOcean was the subject of Dahlia’s video.

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.

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.

NASA recognized the winning videos during a special awards ceremony with Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, at the Space Foundation’s National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 12. The winners received 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 the Spinoff 2010 publication. Details will be available in May.

For more information about the contest and to see the winning videos, visit: http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/optimus/index.php