A little over a year ago, Justin Dowd’s boss bought a pack of colored chalk to write the day’s specials on the wall. Little did he know, that chalk would change Dowd’s life forever. The Northeastern undergraduate, then a third-year studying physics, told me he’d always had a penchant for doodling and a minor love affair with Einstein’s theory of relativity. After getting creative with the chalk menu and gaining some skills with the dusty medium, Dowd decided to make what he calls a “chalkimation” video explaining relativity.

He spent two months holed up in his basement and at the end submitted the final product to the Metro Newspaper’s Space Race. A few months later he was juggling phone calls from journalists, astronauts, and elected officials: a year ago today, Justin Dowd learned he’d be taking a trip to space, all thanks to the chalk drawings.

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