Skip to main content

NASA Spotlite Challenge: Cloud Detectives
Developed in Collaboration with NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative

As NASA Cloud Detectives, you are challenged to gather and share evidence to confront misconceptions about clouds.

STEP 1: Select the misconception you will investigate.
Misconception 1:

All clouds produce rain.

Misconception 2:

Clouds are made of gas.

STEP 2: Make a CLAIM that refutes or disproves the misconception.
Claim 1 Example:

Not ALL clouds produce rain.

Claim 2 Example:

Clouds are NOT made of gas.

STEP 3: Investigate and make observations to gather EVIDENCE to test your CLAIM.

Go to the RESEARCH tab for suggested activities to gather data and make observations.

Be sure to film how you set up and run the activities to include as part of your Spotlite video.

STEP 4: Now you’re ready to plan and create your video.

Use the CRITERIA tab for an outline of important components for the Spotlite video.

Use the CREATE tab to guide your planning and the creation of your Spotlite video.

Use the PUBLISH tab to find a rubric and submit your final Spotlite.

What Is a NASA Spotlite?

These 90 to 120 second videos are written, filmed, edited, and produced by students using the engineering design process. Each video targets a science misconception.

Where Are NASA Spotlite Videos Used?

Approved videos that meet all criteria and constraints will be added to the NASA eClips website.

These videos will support science lessons and be used by classroom teachers across the United States.

Why Does NASA Want Videos?

One of NASA’s goals is to improve scientific literacy, or our understanding of science. The goal of the video is to change students' misconceptions about a topic in science.

How Can Spotlites Help?

A video that includes a demonstration and encourages others to try a related science activity can be used to help teach the correct science.

Who Can Participate?

This challenge is for students in grades 6 through 12. Students age 13 and older may appear on camera. Students under age 13 may still participate in all other aspects of the project.

Do You Need Special Equipment?

You don't need high tech recording and editing tools.  All steps for creating a Spotlite video can be accomplished using cell phones, tablets, and laptops.

An Adobe Spark template is available for teams to create a NASA Spotlite video.

Components of a NASA Spotlite Video

Include the following components to develop a NASA Spotlite video that will help others confront their misconception about a science topic. Think of an appealing storyline to keep the target audience engaged throughout the video.

Responsive image

Criteria and Constraints

The video produced must:

  • Contain an Intro that includes the:
    • NASA Spotlite logo
    • video title
    • topic of the video
  • Contain an Engage section that:
    • uses a real-world situation or problem as the setting
    • identifies the misconception
    • shares a claim
    • uses dialogue with more than one voice
    • includes questions
  • Contain an Explore section that:
    • shows your team doing an investigation, making observations, or gathering field notes
    • shows your audience how to gather their own EVIDENCE
    • includes NASA graphics, images, and animations, if possible
    • includes appropriate safety statements (on screen and audio). Safety statements can be found under the Research tab
    • includes discussions about patterns in your observations
    • encourages viewers to “Try This”
  • Be of high quality in visual content
  • Be of high quality in audio aspects
  • Be between 90 and 120 seconds in length
  • Contain closed captioning.

The following statements should be included on the last frame of the video.

  1. Produced and edited by _________________
  2. NASA Disclaimer Statement (required)

    This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under award No. NNX16AB91A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

  3. NASA Resources Credit

    If you used NASA for graphics, images, and/or animations please include a credit or statement such as: ​
    Graphics presented in this video were developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
    You may also find a suggested credit on the original NASA source.

  4. Credits for other Resources

    If you used other graphics, please cite the source:
    Photographer, F.M. (Photographer). (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of Photograph [digital image]. Retrieved from URL.

  5. Include the Spotlite Logo
Download Spotlite Logo

Misconception 1: All clouds produce rain.

Demonstration and Experimentation Ideas

Observe and record data about clouds. You can do this through GLOBE by using the GLOBE Observer app or using data collection sheets.

Science Information Links

  1. GLOBE Cloud Science
  2. Our World: Cloud Inspection
  3. Our World: Cool Clouds
  4. NASA Science Visualization Studio (SVS) 2017 Monsoon Data
  5. NASA SVS 2017 Hurricane Tracks Showing Clouds and Precipitation
*Ask learners to explore the visualizations to see if this EVIDENCE supports the CLAIM that “not all clouds produce rain.”

Misconception 2: Clouds are made up of gas.

NASA cares about the safety of all learners!
  • Never look directly at the sun!
  • Select a safe location for making sky observations (e.g., away from traffic).
  • Be aware of your surroundings and look around before you look up at the sky.
  • Follow guidelines from local officials. If it is not safe to go outside, look at clouds through a window.
NASA cares about the safety of all learners!
Cloud in a Jar activity
  • Use care getting hot water.
  • Matches/fire should only be used under adult supervision.
Alternative Cloud in a Jar activity
  • Get an adult to help with cutting the cork and inserting the inflation needle.
  • Chemicals such as rubbing alcohol should only be used under adult supervision.
  • Have an adult hold the cork during inflation.

Tips for Script Writing and Filming

2-Column Scripts

Write a 2-column script for your video. In the left-hand column of a two-column script you should include the visual aspects of the production. Here is where the content of each shot is identified. Use abbreviations to describe the type of shot, such as "CU" for "close-up," "MS" for "medium shot," and "WS" for "wide shot." Note any special effects in this column. Use “GFX” for graphic or image. Voice-over (“V.O.”) is used when someone is speaking while an image or animation is on screen.

The right-hand column contains the audio portions of the production. Write the dialogue, sound effects and music in this column.​

The content of the columns should be synchronized, so that the dialogue in the right column matches the shots in the left column.


The purpose of a storyboard is to plan how the video will unfold shot-by-shot. Here are some tips for designing a storyboard.​

  1. Establish a timeline for the events in the video.​
  2. Identify the scenes that will be needed to tell the story.
  3. Think about some key elements you want to include.
    • Audio
    • Graphics
    • Text
  4. Add relevant characters to each cell in the storyboard.
  5. Include the important statements the character or narrator needs to say to address the science misconception.

Consider these questions:

  • What is the setting/background for the scene? (Be sure your setting is not cluttered as this will distract from the video.)
  • What actions are the characters performing?​
  • What props are in the scene?​
  • What is the size, color, and position of the text on screen?


Prior to filming, read the rubric that will be used to evaluate the video. The elements listed in the rubric should be used to guide your production of an effective video that addresses a science misconception.

Film Vocabulary​

Design Challenge Statement

NASA Spotlite Challenge: Cloud Detectives
Student Scientists and Production Teams Needed!
Gather your team, your observations, your creativity, and video recording devices.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wants you and your team to produce a video for the NASA eClips website.

Your video must engage, entertain, and encourage other learners to gather and analyze data that can be used to confront misconceptions about clouds.

Identify the Problem

Problem Board
What do we need to know and do? What do we already know? What do we need to learn and where do we find it?
To help students explore this topic, do not explain the science to them. Encourage your viewers to explore your CLAIM by recreating your investigations.


Think of an interesting way to state the misconception and explain why it is wrong.

  • Brainstorm possible engaging storylines for the targeted audience.
  • Where will the story take place?
  • What characters will be in the story?
    • One character has the wrong information.
    • Another character notices that something is wrong and makes a CLAIM.


What will people see?

What will people hear?

Present the question to address the misconception through a real-world problem.(30 seconds)
Show how to set up demonstrations and investigations to explore the CLAIM.(60 seconds)
Challenge the audience to try the demonstrations.(10-30 seconds)
Between 150-220 words are needed for a 2-minute script.

Evaluate - Peer Review

Share your script and storyboard with another team and science expert.

Film and Edit

  • Prepare the setting.
  • Make sure there is enough light.
  • Speak loudly and clearly into the microphone.
  • Make sure graphics and images are appropriate for the video.
  • Have an adult check your work.
  • Product logos cannot appear in your video. NASA does not promote or endorse commercial products.
  • To protect the privacy of children, faces of students under the age of 13 will not be published on the NASA eClips website.
  • Everyone appearing in the video must sign a media release form.
Before submitting, use the rubric to make sure your team has produced the best NASA Spotlite video.
Video Production Rubric
The video produced: Exemplary
Contains an ENGAGE section that identifies the science misconception. Presents the question to address the misconception through a real-world problem.
Makes a CLAIM that refutes or disproves the misconception.
Contains an EXPLORE section that includes a demonstration to debunk the misconception. Through the demonstration the viewer sees how to set up an activity to explore the science concept and collect EVIDENCE.
Keeps the viewers’ attention and is engaging. Highly engaging through the entire video. Viewer is engaged with questions to answer or instructions to follow. Use dialogue with more than one voice (conversation).
Contains high quality visual content. The visual content is of high quality. Clear and crisp images/clips are used throughout the video.
Contains high quality audio aspects. The audio is of high quality and is used throughout the video. Audio level is consistent throughout the video.
Ranges between 90 and 120 seconds. Falls within the time limit constraints.
Captures the speakers pronouncing words with clarity and appropriate inflection/expression. All speakers speak clearly and distinctly, facial expressions and body language generate a strong interest and enthusiasm.
Includes labels for ENGAGE and EXPLORE sections, Spotlite intro, end credits, NASA disclaimer, and Spotlite outro. Video includes all required components with no errors.