Calling all mini movie buffs and science lovers! The best of both worlds collide at the awesome new Science Behind Pixar Exhibition. Get a unique, up-close and hands-on look at how Pixar animated movie magic comes to life with the help of those STEM skills at the California Science Center.

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Behind The Computer Screen
If your kids have ever wondered how Dori made it from someone’s imagination onto the big screen, this new exhibit is the perfect way to take a look at how digital animation works, in a way that younger movie fans can actually grasp. The exhibit starts off with a quick introductory film that walks you through the stages of Pixar’s process, from idea to completed film. From there you’ll move into the main gallery that breaks down the different components of filmmaking into fun, interactive stations your kids will be itching to touch—and thankfully they are welcome to touch and play away.

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Hands-On Fun
At the Pixar exhibit young scientists will find real-world applications for the STEM skills they’ve been developing at school and in classes. The large hall is filled with tons of hands-on stations that let kids explore all the elements that go into making a Pixar film, from character movement and lighting to set design and camera controls. You can use a touchscreen to control how Woody’s arms move, toggle buttons to move cameras across a scale model, pull levers to learn how 2D images can change into 3D, and build your own robot model; and those are just a few examples of the many activities to check out. You’ll of course want to take a quick break from all the exciting learning to snap some pics with the larger than life-sized models of Buzz Lightyear, Dori, and Wall-E.

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The Big Picture
After you’ve discovered all the stages of the film process, it’s time to learn how all the pieces fit together to create the finished product. You’ll move to the outer gallery where you can explore a scene from The Incredibles frame-by-frame, and learn how stop motion works by making your own short film. Finally, you’ll learn about rendering and your tykes will be amazed to discover that just a single frame of a film can take over an entire day to be completed.

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Take The Experience Home
Like with any well-planned family exhibit, you’ll exit through the Pixar-filled gift shop, so be prepared for plenty of “Can I have this?” Keep in mind that the Science Center’s main gift shop does not carry any of this special gear, which includes toy sets, apparel, and science kits all themed around your favorite Pixar characters, so if you plan to buy, now is your only chance (there is no re-entry once you exit).

Luckily, the holidays are right around the corner, so you can send the kids on to see the space shuttle, while you linger to stock up on gifts that you can race back to the car!

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The Details
The Science of Pixar Exhibition is only open for a limited time, until April 9, 2017. General admission to the California Science Center is free, but the Pixar exhibit requires timed entry tickets available every half hour from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $14.95, and kids 4-12 are $9.95. As a bonus, the Pixar tickets enable you to enter the Endeavor exhibit without separate timed tickets. We definitely recommend buying your tickets in advance online, especially for weekend dates. While the exhibit is all ages and even the youngest visitors will have fun tapping buttons and saying hello to the giant Pixar characters, it is definitely geared towards kids 7 & up.

Quick tip: Try to avoid dates coinciding with Rams home games, as getting in and out of the area will be extremely tough.  Trojans home games aren’t quite as bad, traffic wise, but can make parking tougher.  In any case, we totally recommend taking the Metro, which stops right in front of the Science Center!

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr.
Exposition Park
323-724-3623
Online: californiasciencecenter.org

What’s your favorite Pixar movie?  Are there any that need (another) sequel?  Let us know your Pixar Story in the comments!

—written and pictures by Shahrzad Warkentin