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Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination

A traveling exhibition created by the Museum of Science, Boston, featuring props and costumes used in the Star Wars films, but focusing primarily on the science behind George Lucas' science fiction-fantasy epic

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The Science Is Strong In This One

  • Jan 5, 2011
Rating:
+5
Many of the world's leading scientists credit at least one science fiction film, television series, or novel as a major inspiration for their love of the sciences.  Whether they became interested in astronomy by watching Star Trek or genetics after reading Jurassic Park, science fiction has played a key role in the development of some of our world's greatest minds.

Hoping to inspire the next Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates and having a great love for Star Wars, I jumped at the opportunity to take my children to the Lafayette Science Museum in Lafayette, Louisiana to check out Star Wars:  Where Science Meets Imagination.

When we entered the museum, we were greeted with a smile from the friendly staff.  After purchasing tickets to enter the exhibit and also picking up tickets to ride the Millennium Falcon experience, we entered a world where science and fantasy collide.

The first thing we saw was the original landspeeder from Star Wars IV:  A New Hope, as well as a small model of the same landspeeder that was also used in the film.  In the same room were a number of film-used models and costumes from all of the films.  Some of the more notable items on display in this area were an X-Wing fighter, one of Han Solo's costumes, a Chewbacca costume worn by Peter Mayhew, and Anakin's podracer from Star Wars:  The Phantom Menace.

Between this area and an area focusing primarily on droids from the film was the Millennium Falcon Experience.  This was a ride that seated four people in a replica of the cockpit of Han Solo's legendary ship.  It takes riders on a trip through space looking at planets, stars, and even the edge of the universe.  The trip through space is narrated by Anthony Daniels, who portrayed C-3PO in the films.  My children (and myself) loved this to no end.  It was like being in the actual Millennium Falcon for about four minutes.  It was both educational and fun.

After our trip through the stars, we headed to the droid program.  One highlight of the program was witnessing a soccer game played by robotic dogs that attempted to adapt to their surroundings and react in a way that a normal dog (or even a human) might react.  The program was narrated by Anthony Daniels, but as C-3PO.  C-3PO interacted with a taped version of Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, developer of Kismet, a robot that communicates with emotional gibberish that is featured in the program as a real world version of a protocol droid.  Breazeal explained the importance of robots in our world, from sewer crawlers to robotic firefighters.  The program was very enjoyable.

From here, my family and I were treated to a pair of robotic legs and given the chance to make them move.  We also got to see more props from the film including two models of the Millennium Falcon, General Grievous' ship, and an Imperial Star Destroyer.

The next area in the exhibit featured extreme worlds like Hoth and Tattooine.  It included interactive games, a Wampa costume, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi costumes from Revenge of the Sith and a snowtrooper costume.  Also included in this area was a very interesting look at prosthetics that featured Luke's prosthetic hand, Anakin's prosthetic hand, and real world prosthetic body parts including a digital retina that actually showed visitors what a blind person might be able to see with such a device.  This area also featured a very excellent display of many of the hand-held weapons from the films that ranged from Boba Fett's rifle to a number of Sith and Jedi lightsabers.

From here the exhibit headed upstairs where the focus was centered more on our own world.  This particular area included a number of hands-on displays.  Myself, my kids, and my wife were given the opportunity to create racers that moved via magnets, build robots that responded to commands, and even take a spin on a real hovercraft.  The key Star Wars features of this level of the exhibit were a display on robotic visual recognition of people and things featuring R2-D2's head and a wonderful exhibit of Star Wars Lego creations.

When our visit to the museum ended, my son was ready to watch the rest of the Star Wars films (he's only watched The Phantom Menace) and he also wanted to check out robots a bit more.  My daughter, aged nine, is already interested in astronomy and her interest was multiplied with our visit to the museum.  She also took an interest in magnets (and Amidala's costumes).  My wife enjoyed the exhibit, and was particularly intrigued by the prosthetics display, especially the development of synthetic skin in our own world. 

As for myself, I was like a kid in a candy store.  I got to see the actual Darth Vader helmet from Revenge of the Sith and a model of my favorite Star Wars creature, the tauntaun.  I relived memories of pretending to be Luke Skywalker and Han Solo when I was young.  It was simply wonderful.  As for the real world aspects of the exhibit, much like my daughter, I'm a sucker for astronomy.  Getting a glimpse at what we know about our galaxy and our universe captured my attention right away.

If you love science, Star Wars, or both, I highly recommend checking out Star Wars:  Where Science Meets Imagination.  It's a very unique experience that combines the wonders of science with the fantasy of a galaxy far, far away...
One of the models of the Millennium Falcon. Props from The Empire Strikes Back.

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April 11, 2012
Interesting story and pictures too!
 
February 01, 2012
This is awesome! I might have to add this to my Bucket List :)
 
September 03, 2011
I love those exhibits.
 
January 05, 2011
I'm bummed that I missed this while it was in Los Angeles. Hope it makes a return trip. Great review!
 
January 05, 2011
sweet review. I saw a few shows like this that had similar themes. I was especially amused with the light saber bit; they could make such a laser device but the machine that does it is as big as a house. Thanks for this!!
January 05, 2011
The lightsabers were the one thing in this exhibit that I wish they would have expanded upon. I've seen shows that try to tackle the lightsaber issue and one popular theory is that a plasma sword might be more realistic in our world.
January 05, 2011
Yeah, it was interesting in the show. One thing they couldn't figure out was how light sabers could deflect energy in the movies. I also liked that bit with the DEATH STAR's death ray.
 
January 05, 2011
I always point out this exhibition, the accompanying book, and the "Science of Star Wars" TV docs whenever someone says that "Star Wars" is pure fantasy and not science fiction. Very nice job on this review. I wish I could have seen the exhibition itself.
January 05, 2011
Dude, Star Wars is 85% fantasy and 15 % sci-fi LOL!
January 05, 2011
70-30. You need to be familiar with the science in order to see it.
January 05, 2011
In defense of the Count, Darth Vader alone could have an exhibit built around him. He's a walking prosthetic! I was really surprised with how much real world science they tied with the films.
January 05, 2011
I like picking on the Count. Obviously I was just being funny. Yes, there is science fiction elements and devices in the films, albeit the stories are more driven by fantasy and mysticism. "The Force", politics and the search and defense of a princess, of love and betrayal are all fantasy elements. It was what made the franchise special. Though the books and later comics appear more sci-fi.
January 05, 2011
I know you were joking with the Count. I was just trying to add fuel to the fire. I agree with you on the fantasy elements. When I was much younger, I read a book that compared the Star Wars universe with Chrisitianity. It was actually a very interesting read. Unfortunately, I lost the book and can't even remember the title.
January 05, 2011
There's also a great book about the spirituality and philosophy in "Star Wars" that talks about various Buddhist, Christian, and Gnostic ideas in the original films.
January 05, 2011
LOL! yeah, me and Orlok there always have our disagreements  ;) I think I have read some parts of that book, what I also loved was the EFFECTS OF STAR WARS. It was just amazing how they got by without CGI in those days.
January 05, 2011
We never argue, just disagree.
January 05, 2011
exactly. comes with the territory when you are both passionate about similar things.
January 05, 2011
Not exactly, but pretty much. LOL!
 
January 05, 2011
Whoa, this sounds so cool! A friend of mine went to this and sent me some photos, so it's neat to read about it in more detail. Thanks for sharing, K!
 
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About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #17
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination is a traveling exhibition created by the Museum of Science, Boston, featuring props and costumes used in the Star Wars films, but focusing primarily on the science behind George Lucas' science fiction-fantasy epic. Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination was developed by Boston's Museum of Science, in collaboration with Lucasfilm Ltd., with the support of the National Science Foundation, under Grant No. 0307875. This exhibit is presented nationally by Bose Corporation.  (from Wikipedia)
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