Play the Spinoffs Memory Game

Play the Spinoffs Memory Game

National Science Teacher's Association web pick

Click on a card to turn it over. Try to find the second card that matches the first. If the second does not match, both cards return to a face down position. If they do match, the cards are removed to reveal part of the image hidden underneath.

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What do things like boots, bottles, and braces have to do with the space program? They all use technologies or materials that were originally developed for the space program.

TV satellite dish

TV Satellite Dish

NASA developed ways to correct errors in the signals coming from the spacecraft. This technology is used to reduce noise (that is, messed up picture or sound) in TV signals coming from satellites.

MRI image of head

Medical Imaging

NASA developed ways to process signals from spacecraft to produce clearer images. (See more on digital information and how spacecraft send images from space.) This technology also makes possible these photo-like images of our insides.

Eye chart

Vision Screening System

Uses techniques developed for processing space pictures to examine eyes of children and find out quickly if they have any vision problems. The child doesn't have to say a word!

Ear thermometer

Ear Thermometer

Instead of measuring temperature using a column of mercury (which expands as it heats up), this thermometer has a lens like a camera and detects infrared energy, which we feel as heat. The warmer something is (like your body), the more infrared energy it puts out. This technology was originally developed to detect the birth of stars.

Fire fighter

Fire Fighter Equipment

Fire fighters wear suits made of fire resistant fabric developed for use in space suits.

Smoke detector

Smoke Detector

First used in the Earth orbiting space station called Skylab (launched back in 1973) to help detect any toxic vapors. Now used in most homes and other buildings to warn people of fire.

Sun glasses

Sun Tiger Glasses

From research done on materials to protect the eyes of welders working on spacecraft, protective lenses were developed that block almost all the wavelengths of radiation that might harm the eyes, while letting through all the useful wavelengths that let us see.

Sport utility vehicle

Automobile Design Tools

A computer program developed by NASA to analyze a spacecraft or airplane design and predict how parts will perform is now used to help design automobiles. This kind of software can save car makers a lot of money by letting them see how well a design will work even before they build a prototype.

Dust Buster vacuum cleaner

Cordless Tools

Portable, self-contained power tools were originally developed to help Apollo astronauts drill for moon samples. This technology has lead to development of such tools as the cordless vacuum cleaner, power drill, shrub trimmers, and grass shears.


Aerodynamic Bicycle Wheel

A special bike wheel uses NASA research in airfoils (wings) and design software developed for the space program. The three spokes on the wheel act like wings, making the bicycle very efficient for racing.


Thermal Gloves and Boots

These gloves and boots have heating elements that run on rechargeable batteries worn on the inside wrist of the gloves or embedded in the sole of the ski boot. This technology was adapted from a spacesuit design for the Apollo astronauts.


Space Pens

The Fisher Space Pen was developed for use in space. Most pens depend on gravity to make the ink flow into the ball point. For this space pen, the ink cartridge contains pressured gas to push the ink toward the ball point. That means, you can lie in bed and write upside down with this pen! Also, it uses a special ink that works in very hot and very cold environments.

Football player

Shock Absorbing Helmets

These special football helmets use a padding of Temper Foam, a shock absorbing material first developed for use in aircraft seats. These helmets have three times the shock absorbing ability of previous types.

Ski boot

Ski Boots

These ski boots use accordion-like folds, similar to the design of space suits, to allow the boot to flex without distortion, yet still give support and control for precision skiing.


Failsafe Flashlight

This flashlight uses NASA's concept of system redundancy, which is always having a backup for the parts of the spacecraft with the most important jobs. This flashlight has an extra-bright primary bulb and an independent backup system that has its own separate lithium battery (also a NASA developed technology) and its own bulb.

Dental braces

Invisible Braces

These teeth-straightening braces use brackets that are made of a nearly invisible translucent (almost see-through) ceramic material. This material is a spinoff of NASA's advanced ceramic research to develop new, tough materials for spacecraft and aircraft.


Edible Toothpaste

This is a special foamless toothpaste developed for the astronauts to use in space (where spitting is not a very good idea!) Although this would be a great first toothpaste for small children, it is no longer available.


Joystick Controllers

Joystick controllers are used for lots of things now, including computer games and vehicles for people with disabilities. These devices evolved from research to develop a controller for the Apollo Lunar Rover, and from other NASA research into how humans actually operate (called "human factors").

Plastic bottle

Advanced Plastics

Spacecraft and other electronics need very special, low-cost materials as the base for printed circuits (like those inside your computer). Some of these "liquid crystal polymers" have turned out to be very good, low-cost materials for making containers for foods and beverages.

article last updated March 12, 2012

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