The Star Wars franchise continues to appeal to kids and adults for its classic tale of good versus evil and its really cool science-comes-to-life ideas. Seriously, who wouldn’t want a chance to drive a pod racer?
If you’ve got a Star Wars geeklet who would rather talk tech than read poetry, then we’ve collected more than a dozen ways you can build on that excitement through Everyday Learning explorations. Wait till you see how you can channel The Force to build days and weeks worth of homeschool learning.
The characters of Star Wars are based on an ancient storyline called the Monomyth. The Monomyth sets out a hero’s path that he or she must travel in order to achieve his or her quest. Elements of the Monomyth include a birth story that usually relates to an orphan; a call to adventure that is oftentimes initially refused; helpers; and a rebirth that occurs after the climatic battle.
Explore how Star Wars fits the Monomyth:
- UC Berkeley’s Hero’s Journey: 1-page interactive wheel that describes the main elements of the monomyth. This Monomyth site defines the different stages and includes pictures from Star Wars. After you get a better understaning of the Monomyth formula, see if you can identify how Anakin and Luke Skywalker both fit the hero’s journey.
- Hero’s Journey Story Starter: A free online interactive tool that prompts kids to create their own hero. Click on each of the ten silhouettes and type in your answers to the prompts. When you’re done, you can print your notes to use as a writing guide.
Is it possible to build a light saber just like those found in Star Wars? The key may be found inside of a crystal. You can also watch Dr. Kaku’s video on a full light saber design.
TechNewsDaily created a really cool infographic that explains how light sabers work. The original link is down, but you can still see the infographic on Pinterest.
Of course, some people are party poopers about light sabers. In 2010, GE engineer, Matt Gluesenkamp, published a blog explaining why light sabers will never work. The article is no longer available, but Geek Tyrant and Nerd Approved give you a summary of Gluesenkamp’s technological breakdown of why light sabers are pure fantasy.
- The Force: From the authoritative Wookieepedia. (Yes, I spelled that right.) Discover everything you could possibly want to know about the light side, the dark side, the unifying side – the force!
- Toy companies have been selling Jedi Force Trainers for some time, but you can train up your budding Jedi with a simple science experiment. University of Virginia’s Physics Department will help you explore the basic principles of static electricity using salt and pepper. Really, check it out. Your young padawan will get a kick out of seeing what other objects will work to make the pepper jump out of the plate. (Hint: Use a plastic spoon as your “light saber”.)
- Design a Pod Racer: You’ll need to adapt this free downloadable lesson plan, as it was originally designed to be used in a museum in Australia. However, having a copy of the movie handy or doing a few Google image searches should be enough to give you the visual cues you’ll need to complete this building challenge.
- R2-D2 and C-3PO: Do Droids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Man is a long way from truly creating artificial intelligence. While we’ve been successful at inventing robots that can complete not-so-basic tasks, we are long way off from integrating emotions into computers. This is an interesting article that explores whether robots should have the capacity to feel.
- Take a virtual visit to MIT’s Personal Robots Group Lab to see real-life work being done to develop expressive humanoids. You may or may not like the progress that’s been made in creating socially intelligent robots.
- Older students can take a free online course through MIT’s Cognitive Science department to explore this multidiscplinary field that seeks to achieve artificial intelligence.
How Stuff Works gives middle schoolers the history of how the hovercraft was invented. You can use this free online hovercraft unit study to learn more about the scientific principles behind this kind of movement. Then, you can build your own Hovercraft.
- Star Wars: The Magic of Myth Virtual Tour examines the mythology beneath the Star Wars story, a hero’s journey that takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away….” This online gallery of conceptual artwork and text is based on the National Air ans Space Museum’s Star Wars exhibit, which closed in 1999.
Add your ideas for learning more about Star Wars!