View From Table 9

March 9, 2008

Star Wars: Where Science (Doesn’t Really) Meets Imagination

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 11:16 pm
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Today we headed over to the Franklin Institute to see the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit. DS is crazy right now about Star Wars, having recently been introduced to the story (properly, starting with Episode IV). So he was beyond excited to go.

The exhibit has timed entry, and we had to buy in advance. My first surprise was that I thought that meant that it would be less crowded. Silly me. It was packed, and since the space seemed too small to begin with, very cramped. I was almost feeling claustrophobic, and I’m not usually that way. DH, who dislikes crowds to begin with, was miserable.

My second surprise was that I thought the exhibit would somehow tie scientific concepts to movie imagination, or at least show how one engenders another. I’ve always held the belief that SciFi, especially hard SciFi, was the inspiration for technological breakthrough, or at the least that they worked in tandem to advance thought. So I was looking forward to showing DS how the two worked together. Again, silly me. Why would a science museum want to put those two together? Because they didn’t, at least not very well. Yeah, there was a hovercraft type ride, but it didn’t tie to anything, and there was a display of a Roomba and iDogs, but no tie to how Star Wars or SciFi in general tied to them. They also showed the robotic medicine in the movie but failed to tie that either to modern medicine (such as the Da Vinci surgical system or developing thoughts in nanotechnology and medicine). Mostly this was a display of costuming and modeling with a gift shop attached. Even DS and his friend became bored quite quickly and wanted to exit.

Fortunately, it appears “The Franklin” as they want to be called now still has way cool stuff for kids, like the walk-through heart & corresponding circulatory and human body exhibits; the ever popular electricity exhibits, the Mission Space type exhibit, the also perennially popular Train room and the aviation room. We spent hours in these with the boys thoroughly engaged, involved and actually grasping scientific concepts such as lift and magnetic levitation and sonar. Yay.

So for anyone considering, I’d probably skip the Star Wars exhibit (though I heard the Milennium Falcon simulator ride was cool, we couldn’t get tickets) and just do the Institute itself. You and your kids will still have a great time. Oh, and buy the light saber toy from the guy outside – way cheaper for basically the same gig.

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