The Star Wars Identities

The Telus World of Science Edmonton is currently hosting an exhibition called Star Wars Identities. I'm all about science, but you had me at "Star Wars." Walk around a big room filled with actual props and costumes from the movies? Woot!

I went to SWI on the opening weekend with my good friend--and fellow nerd--George. (You should do the same. Er, but get your own friend. They don't have to be named "George," either.) He does an awesome Chewbacca, and his impression of a TIE fighter is...eerie. Go ahead and geek out, that's what it's about. Well, actually, it's about more than that, and that's what really impressed me about the exhibit.

The developers of the exhibit have added depth, meaning, and personal relevance to what otherwise might be a big room full of dusty old things. As you go through the exhibit, you create a Star Wars-universe character of your own, making choices about many aspects of its (your?) life. There are 10 different components: species, genes, parents, culture, mentors, friends, events, occupation, personality, and values. These are ordered ontogenetically--er, that is, reflective of human development, from childhood to adulthood (or "Origins, Influences, and Choices").

It became clear to me pretty quickly that there was some actual science behind this, and some careful thought. The developers consulted with scientific committee, including two neuropsychologists, three psychologists, and a some other experts in related scientific fields. For example, mention is made of the influence of different parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, or uninvolved) from the point of view of Anakin versus Luke. And the personality component brought up the Big 5 personality traits of agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness. (Try this Big 5 personality test yourself.)

At the end of it all, you get to choose to be either good, or, you know, choose the Dark Side. And then you see the character who you created. Here's mine:

The character in the background on the right is the one created by my friend George: a Jedi named Juh. (Yeah, so we're not great at coming up with names. What, is "Jar Jar" any better?)

Actual science and Star Wars together. Cool. Star Wars Identities runs until April 1, 2013. Highly recommended.

Why aren't you studying?

Update 1/20/2013: has an article on Star Wars Identities.


Anastasia said...

Did you join the dark side?

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

@Anastasia: You can tell from the blue glow around my Ewok that I chose the, er, "light side"? Actually, I didn't give my Ewok any Jedi abilities, so it didn't really matter. How bad (or good) could an Ewok be, anyway?

Anastasia said...

I'd like to think that with some hard work and perseverance, an Ewok can be just as evil as anyone else.

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