‘Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination’ Makes Its Final Stop

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Monday, January 27th, 2014

Model of the Millennium Falcon
The Force is strong in Silicon Valley. Recently,  the Lucas Museum, the Boston Museum of Science, MIT, and the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute teamed up to bring Star Wars to San Jose, California. The ‘Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination’ exhibition found its home at The Tech Museum of Innovation on October 19th, and was recently extended by a month to March 23rd due to popular demand. The highly interactive, traveling exhibit has been making its way around the world since it first debuted at the Boston Museum of Science  in 2005. It has made stops in 18 cities around the US and two cities in Australia. The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose is the last stop on the exhibit’s 20-city scheduled tour.

Display about levitation technology

‘Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination’ has been a popular destination for fans of the George Lucas classics and science lovers alike. You don’t need to be well-versed in the Star Wars films or books to enjoy what it has to offer. Exhibit designers created ‘Where Science Meets Imagination’ with two goals in mind. Their primary goal was to create hands-on opportunities for visitors to learn about science, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) through the different elements of the exhibition. They also wanted to showcase some of the Star Wars franchise’s movie props and give fans an opportunity to engage with the films in a different way. By using Star Wars to teach STEM concepts, the designers were able to leverage fans’ imaginations while creating an engaging learning environment.

If you’re a Star Wars fan intent on visiting the exhibit to check out memorabilia, you won’t be disappointed. The 10,000 square foot hall is packed full of props and costumes from the films. Visitors see the original C3-PO, Yoda, R2-D2, and Chewbacca costumes. There are a number of props and models on display as well, including Darth Vader’s helmets, various light sabers, and a replica of the X-Wing Fighter. Visitors can also journey through the galaxy on Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. There’s a life-sized replica of the ship’s cockpit on-site that takes guests away on a five-minute adventure into space that’s an interactive video feature.

The integration of STEM teaching into the exhibit is what sets it apart from a standard movie attraction. It features fun, interactive elements designed to inspire imaginations and deliver complex science concepts in highly accessible ways. ‘Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination’ visitors explore interactive installations about space travel, astronomy, robotics, mathematics, engineering, and physics. Science fans can explore the inner workings of robots, discover the physics behind launching a space craft into the atmosphere, and learn more about high tech concepts such as levitation technology. The concepts explored are both core science curricula pieces and an inside look at what makes the Star Wars universe tick.

Wookies on display at Star Wars exhibit

One of the trends that we’ve noted in recent months is more diverse efforts to incorporate STEM into science museums around the globe. “Where Science Meets Imagination” has managed a particularly engaging platform by combining a teaching environment with a top pop culture film. There’s just enough fan gear to pull in visitors, even if they aren’t directly interested in the science. There’s a lesson here for exhibit designers that are looking for strategies to draw in attendees, without making significant tradeoffs on design integrity. The highly popular exhibit is on display at the Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley until March 23rd. Whether you’ve been inspired by George Lucas’ Star Wars films for many years or are simply interested in learning more about science, mathematics and technology, it’s certainly worth a look.

Image credit: Sasha Bailyn, photographer

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