I was able to catch up with Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination at the Columbus Center of Science and Industry, and it was a fun time. There wasn't much emphasis on the science end of things–it was mostly props and costumes from the Star Wars movies as well as one or two kiosks that talked about what technology we have today that comes close to matching what we've seen on the screen. If you walk in mostly expecting to see a lot of cool Star Wars stuff, you won't be disappointed.
It's interesting to see how hobbled together most of the props for the original trilogy were. Under glass you can see how different bits of electronics where simply pieced together – there's a lot of chipped paint and recognizable items from the garage. Seeing a full sized Droideka from the new movie was pretty impressive though. It was a great design that was underused in the films. Ever notice how badass they were in Episode 1 and how quickly they just became more fodder in the later movies? There were a bunch of neat little details for the curious, such as Wookiee weapons, being able to see what's inside Darth Vader's helmet, and looking at the collection of prop lightsabers up close.
There's also a show about modern day robots, but the sound system was way too quiet for the amount of people they put into the theater. We were all straining to hear, and the information was too basic for adults, and too advanced for kids. The animatronic C3PO was pretty underwhelming, and the whole thing was barely worth waiting in line for. One of the better displays was a four minute planetarium presentation that played while you sat in a recreation of the Millenium Falcon's cockpit. The cockpit didn't have more than a passing resemblance to what we saw in the movie, but the show and sound effects were quite spiffy. I got a good sense of the dizzies, and the kids had a blast pretending they were in space. There were also a few interesting hands-on exhibits that explained how mag-lev works, and the kids got to put together their own R2D2 out of parts, but I was left wishing there was more education going on, given that this is what it's billed as.
Unsurprisingly, there was a souvenir and toy room at the end of the display, but I was able to get past without spending any of my money. It was pretty easy when they didn't have any new toys, just things you could buy at the Johnny's Toys down the street for a lot less money.
The whole thing was great if you're a Star Wars fan, and the exhibit travels around the country so seeing it shouldn't be an issue for many fans. If you actually wanted some science in with your fiction though, you're mostly out of luck.