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ASTC Honors Museum of Science's The Science Behind Pixar

October 22, 2016

On September 26, 2016, the Museum of Science, Boston received the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience from ASTC for its 13,000-square-foot traveling exhibition, The Science Behind Pixar, which engages visitors in the computer science, math, and science behind Pixar Animation Studio's films.

The Science Behind Pixar is structured around the eight steps of Pixar's technical production pipeline: Modeling, Rigging, Surfaces, Sets and Cameras, Animation, Simulation, Lighting, and Rendering. With Pixar, the Museum developed physical, computer-based, and multimedia exhibits, and Pixar produced videos showing how its scientists and artists approach technical challenges. The Museum involved potential visitors in development to ensure the exhibition engaged all audiences. Its Universal Design approach fostered inclusion and accessibility, engaging visitors -- including those with disabilities -- through richly differentiated learning experiences.

Accepting the award, Museum president and director Ioannis Miaoulis explained, "We wanted to educate a broad and diverse public about computational thinking, and Pixar films were "the perfect vehicle. Visitors left The Science of Pixar, with higher levels of interest in learning about and practicing STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math], particularly math and computer programming. Popular culture and STEM learning can indeed go hand in hand."

The exhibition produced the Museum's best summer attendance in 17 years, introducing 321,800 visitors to the creativity involved in the science, technology, engineering, art, and math of filmmaking, transforming the complexities of computer science into compelling visitor experiences. After Boston's world premiere, the exhibit engaged 230,000 visitors at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute and just opened at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

On national tour through spring 2022, The Science Behind Pixar, has sparked such interest that the Museum plans to create a second version to tour in Canada, Asia/Oceana, and Europe. The Museum is also beginning to develop a project-based curriculum for Pre-K through grade 5 and other activities as part of its Computer Science Education Initiative.

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The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500