Biodesign tent wows students and families at ASU Homecoming

Record numbers visit 'Science is the Force' exhibition

Visitors made midichlorian coasters with nature’s fractal patterns at "Science is the Force"

Visitors made midichlorian coasters with nature’s fractal patterns at "Science is the Force."


The Biodesign Institute welcomed nearly 1,600 guests to “Science is the Force,” its Star Wars-themed tent at the 2017 ASU Homecoming block party.

The tent, one of Biodesign’s signature outreach events, featured five hands-on science experiences inspired by the Star Wars series and Biodesign research. Visitors had the chance to make midichlorian coasters with nature’s fractal patterns, learn Jedi secrets about scientific discoveries and watch Wookie toothpaste form as a reaction to a chemical catalyst.

This was the 12th year the Biodesign Institute has participated in the festival, which is held at the Arizona State University campus in Tempe before the homecoming football game.

Julie Kurth, manager of marketing and communications at Biodesign, said this year broke records for attendance. In total, 1,575 people visited the tent, up from 1,400 last year. The Biodesign tent was one of the largest draws at the block party. The 99 volunteers included Biodesign Executive Director Joshua LaBaer, Biodesign center directors, faculty, staff and students. Together, the team facilitated hands-on activities all afternoon.

Kurth said the goal of the event is to showcase ASU research and to the use fun activities to inspire the community about science. More than 80 percent of visitors said the experience led to discussions about careers in science, according to an on-site survey.

“We try to look for hands-on things that people who aren’t scientists can participate in to get excited about science,” Kurth said. “Having a modern theme like The Force in Star Wars was an analogy that pointed to the science we experience all around us every day.”

ASU’s homecoming block party will be back next year in October. The event is free and open to the public.