NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Visits Downes Elementary School

Students at Downs Elementary are all ears as NASA unveils the Optimus Prime contest

The far reaches of outer space just became a lot closer for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at Downes Elementary School.

‘The Crew’ from NASA Goddard’s Strategic Partnerships Office (SPO) in Greenbelt Maryland paid a visit to Downs Elementary on January 26th and presented their nation-wide student contest called the Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge (OPSPARC).

The assembly was organized by Assistant Dean of Students Joshua Cohen in collaboration with NASA, the Delaware State PTA and Downes Elementary School PTA.

Darryl Mitchell, OPSPARC Project Lead, along with Technology Liaison Specialist Erin Majerowicz and Outreach Specialist Miosotis Soto began their presentation by providing the students with some background on NASA and how it has evolved into what it is today.

NASA Technology Liaison Specialist Erin Majerowicz presents the Optimus Prime contest to students

They each took time to explain how many technologies developed for the astronauts have made their way back to Earth and are utilized on a daily basis. Examples such as artificial limbs, cell phone cameras, treadmills, memory foam, clear braces and baby formula are some of the ‘spinoffs’ developed.

Fact Check!!! Tang and Velcro were NOT invented by NASA.

With this knowledge in hand, students were asked to be “The Spark” and take part in the contest. Students will use their imagination and creativity individually or in a group to develop their own ‘spinoff’ from NASA technologies.

Students who submit the winning entries in each age category will have the opportunity to visit NASA Goddard for an awards ceremony and workshop to be held in their honor. The workshop will include a behind-the-scenes look at Goddard, the chance to meet some of the top minds at NASA, and the opportunity for the students to design and create their own public service announcement video with guidance from NASA video producers and actor Peter Cullen, the voice of the TRANSFORMERS character OPTIMUS PRIME.

For more information on the OPSPARC contest and how to get involved, visit If you would like to have the crew from Goddard come to your school, please contact State PTA Region VP Mike Williams at [email protected] for more information.

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