By Beth Deitchman
Technology and robotics are a huge part of the Star Wars universe—from building an astromech droid or piloting an AT-AT, to creating new experiences for guests on the planet Batuu. A new digital series, Galactic Builders, takes a closer look at how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) come into play in the world of Star Wars, and it’s been created through an amazing collaboration between Disney and Lucasfilm and FIRST, the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit, which empowers K–12 students to learn, grow and positively affect the world around them. As part of its commitment to providing today’s youth with the skills they need to create the future they imagine, The Walt Disney Company has supported FIRST for more than 20 years.Galactic Builders is powered by the Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative, and the first episode is available now on YouTube.com/StarWarsKids and StarWarsKids.com.
News of the collaboration between The Walt Disney Company and FIRST was first shared in April, during Star Wars Celebration Chicago. Lucasfilm and Disney have provided a $1.5 million in-kind donation and mentorship resources to FIRST, which counts more than 600,000 students among its global robotics community. FIRST students work in teams to build robots that are put to work in competitions, and along the way, the young people develop science, engineering, and technology skills that inspire innovation and foster self-confidence, communication, leadership, and more.
“Lucasfilm and FIRST are a great match,” said Lucasfilm General Manager Lynwen Brennan. “Our hope is that the Star Wars movies will help inspire the next generation of innovators to work with their teammates and have fun exploring robotics and pushing technology. We hope it will be a first step in their journey into engineering and computer science careers and maybe even lead them to being part of the Lucasfilm team someday.”
Galactic Builders is hosted by FIRST students, who, along with their teams, had the opportunity to discuss engineering and robotics with makers from Hasbro, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Industrial Light & Magic. In the series, the spokespeople reveal how their work in the Star Wars universe intersects with technology and robotics, giving FIRST students—and Star Wars fans—inside looks at the fan-favorite droid BB-8 and the just-revealed Ultimate Interactive D-O App-controlled Droid toy, as well as how Star Wars filmmakers use motion capture for droids, and how robotics are used in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Engineer, robotics expert, and BB-8 co-creator Matt Denton recently joined FIRST students for an upcoming episode of Galactic Builders. “It’s very nice being able to tell people about another area of engineering that they might not have thought about, in films and entertainment,” he told StarWars.com. “I think that gets people a little bit excited. They probably see the glamorous side of it—not that it’s all glamorous—but it is different. Working in film suits me because the creative side of my brain fights the engineering side all the time. I think it’s quite good for kids to see that there are alternatives. It doesn’t have to be straight engineering if they have a creative streak. That, I think, is pretty important.”
In the first episode of Galactic Builders, below, middle school students Lyndsay and Daniel visit Hasbro to learn how engineers created the Ultimate Interactive D-O App-controlled Droid toy from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Visit StarWars.com to learn more about this amazing new series, and look for a new episode every Thursday.