If you follow NASA on Twitter, you may be aware that online voting is now open for its Optimus Prime Spinoff Award Video Contest, which encouraged kids, grades 3 to 8, to create shorts about NASA technology that has been modified to go into products used on Earth. NASA considers Transformers’ Optimus Prime, who came to Earth from space, a great analogy for NASA technology transfer, which has resulted in “spinoffs” like, you know, “the heart defibrillator your grandparents might have [!], or the memory foam mattress you sleep on at night, or even the purified water you drink at your house.” Reading about the “spinoff” technology is genuinely fascinating, but watching kids ramble on about it, not so much. That is why we, if I can be so bold as to speak for my discriminating colleagues at Entertainment Weekly, would like to endorse “Captain Banana vs. The Evil Ghost Chili” in the 3rd-5th grade bracket. Watch it below. Ghost Chili, apparently pissed that Canada is polluted, decides to take revenge by polluting the oceans. He tells Captain Banana and Captain Grapeman of his plan, and they run to NASA. “They chatted and chatted and chatted until their chatters couldn’t chat anymore,” we read on a black screen. “At first, they couldn’t think of anything to use to help them… the NASA satellite-respondent buoy saved the day! But then Ghost Chili showed up (at the wrong time).” (Note: I’m correcting spelling and grammar here.) There’s a chase scene, and Ghost Chili gets arrested. “They felt sorry for the villain but couldn’t release him,” we read. “This was a big victory. And everyone (except Ghost Chili) was happy. And that was how it was.” Cut to Captains Banana and Grapeman and the NASA scientist high-fiving at a rave. (Our children are learning how to use a green screen in school these days?) Vote for it here.
The 6th-8th grade bracket is more competitive and imaginative. You’ve got a surprisingly high body count in “Chlorophyll Aids Plants,” and a young Trey Parker and Matt Stone behind “NASA Life Raft Saves Lives!” But “Early Warning Biosensor Saves Lives” may strike the perfect balance of education and entertainment. (Meaning: We’re happy he used the burp sound effect at :30, before we stopped watching and moved on.)
Watch all the videos here, and you tell us, PopWatchers — are you on the “Captain Banana vs. The Evil Ghost Chili” bandwagon? Or do you want to make your case for another film?