Informal Education Resources

OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge (OPSPARC) 2012-2013

RealWorld/InWorld banner

This year there were a total of 858 participants in RealWorld/InWorld, with 207 of them newly registered for this year's challenge. For the Real World portion of the project, 42 teams registered (representing 168 students and 12 teachers). 19 teams qualified to move InWorld.

RealWorld teams came from middle school academic and engineering schools, high school academic and CTE programs, informal settings such as Chabot Space and Science Center, home school settings, and specialized programs such as Project Lead the Way and NASA INSPIRE. InWorld Teams were mentored by college students representing: Ohio State, University of Tennessee Space Institute, Iowa State, University of Maryland Baltimore Campu, Texas A&M, Boise State, California Polytechnic State University, Georgia Tech, University of Virginia, Colorado University at Boulder, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and Keller School of Management.

The winning team, which consisted of high school juniors and seniors participating in the NASA INSPIRES program, included: Abigail Radford of Ashville, N.C.; Joshua Dijamco of Jackson, N.J.; Jonathan Hernandez of Elizabeth, N.J.; Katherine Denner of Horsham, Penn.; and Jim Gerard of Merritt Island, Fla.

In this year's RWIW engineering design challenge, teams chose between coming up with new mirror or a new sunshield design for the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as an associated spin-off technology. The winning team chose to develop a sunshield design, and their spinoff was a starshield. Here are some screenshots of their presentation: InWorld screencaptures
InWorld screencaptures
InWorld screencaptures

The students were invited to present their project and take a tour of NASA Goddard:

On arrival at NASA Goddard, they started off their day meeting our Center Director, Chris Scolese:

NASA Real World/In World Engineering Design Challenge winners
Credit: Pat Izzo

Here they are pictured at the NASA Goddard Visitors Center with Nobel Laureate and James Webb Space Telescope project scientist, Dr. John Mather:

NASA Real World/In World Engineering Design Challenge winners
Credit: Maggie Masetti

Here they present their project to an audience including Dr. Mather:

NASA Real World/In World Engineering Design Challenge winners at NASA Goddard
Credit: Darryl Mitchell NASA Real World/In World Engineering Design Challenge winners at NASA Goddard
Credit: Darryl Mitchell 

In the students’ own words:

  • This challenge has given me practice in thinking critically and solving problems. It has given me confidence in my abilities and my work. It has given me a glimpse-my first taste-of the engineering process and has thereby strengthened my desire to pursue an engineering career.” - Lauren Shum, Year 2 winning team, Year 3 finalist
  • “I really enjoyed this challenge. It solidified my choice to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. One of the most rewarding parts for me was working with Nam, since he has experience in the engineering industry. He provided a lot of insight into how the engineering design process was completed in industry, which added a lot to our creative ideas. Thanks again for everything that NASA has done to make this possible.” - Jill Friese, Year 1 winning team, Year 2 team lead while at Texas A&M
  • “Before, I had a great interest in computer science, especially when I took an online course learning python. However, with the experience I had with RealWorld-InWorld, it changed my perspective of engineering and has considered me to take a career in engineering. The experience that I had in RealWorld-InWorld has had an impact on my interest. I never thought that engineering would be this fun and to do it without anybody in your team near you just makes it even bigger of a challenge. Engineering to me is that entire process from making a design to getting the prototype out and with RealWorld-InWorld, it has given me a taste of that. I really enjoyed it and has increased my knowledge of the exciting wonders of engineering and how unexpected it can be.” - Jonathan Hernandez, Year 3 winning team
  • “RWIW solidified my interest in engineering. It has also made me start to seriously consider aerospace engineering, which previously I just dismissed as rockets. It's shown me how broad the field is, and how much goes into spacecraft design. I think I now have a much better idea of engineering than before, and much stronger conviction to become an engineer.” – Kate Denner, Year 3 winning team

What is RealWorld/InWorld?:

2013 Guest Speakers:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 19, 4-5 p.m. ET - Mark Clampin, JWST Observatory Project Scientist
  • Tuesday, Mar. 193, 4-5 p.m. ET - Paul Geithner, Deputy Project Manager, Technical
  • Thursday, Mar. 26, 4-5 p.m. ET - Amber Straughn, Deputy Project Scientist

Some images from our guest speaker presentations:

Mark Clampin:

Real World In World - Mark Clampin Real World In World - Mark Clampin Real World In World - Mark Clampin Real World In World - Mark Clampin Real World In World - Mark Clampin