Arizona Science Center launches POPnology exhibit

POPnology, Arizona Science Center
Baxter the robot, on display—and at work—at Arizona Science Center’s new POPnology exhibit. Photos by Tac Coluccio.

Want to get kids excited about math, science and technology? The Arizona Science Center’s new POPnology exhibit, which opens Sunday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m., may be the answer.

POPnology explores the crossroads where pop culture and technology meet, encouraging questions like: Did the producers of the TV show “Star Trek” influence the invention of the smart phone? Did the film “Back to the Future” stimulate the creation of the hoverboard?

Kids, parents and grandparents share the thrill of interacting with science-fiction icons from the past, including a roving R2D2 from “Star Wars,” a robotic arm that gently moves dinosaur-protected “Jurassic Park” eggs and that fantastical “Back to the Future” hoverboard.

Visitors get insights into how these imaginative ideas have come to life through the modern technology they have inspired.

POPology is also a great opportunity for a sneak peek into the cutting-edge inventions currently in the works: Hyundai’s flying cars, Mercedes Benz’s self-driving vehicles and Elon Musk’s brainchild—the Hyperloop—a high-speed train that runs on magnetic levitation.

POPnology, Arizona Science Center
The “Strati,” the world’s first 3D-printed car by Local Motors in Tempe.

Tempe-based Local Motors provides a popular station at the exhibit with its fascinating 3D-printed car. The company plans to have the world’s first road-ready, 3D-printed vehicle available to the public by next year. The 3D printing process is demonstrated through time-lapse photography—and the first 3D-printed vehicle is on display.

Troy Carson, CEO of Stage Nine Exhibitions, the company that created the POPnology exhibit, says much of the technology we enjoy today can be traced back to visionaries like Walt Disney, Jules Vern and H.G. Wells who asked the evocative question: What if?

POPnology, Arizona Science Center
The 5-Finger Robot. Visitors can use the joy sticks to move the arm side to side and the elbow forward and back. Depressing the blue buttons closes each finger.
POPnology, Arizona Science Center
Kids can build with blocks at this interactive exhibit.

Profiles of these futuristic thinkers are scattered throughout the exhibit. Visitors are encouraged to reflect on how science fiction becomes science fact and to wonder what the future might hold.

POPnology, Arizona Science Center
The ever-popular R2D2 from the movie “Star Wars.”

The more than 9,000-square-foot POPnology exhibit covers four featured areas of science and technology:

  • How We Play. Virtual reality, gaming, music, art and creativity.
  • How We Move. Modes of transportation, both on this planet and beyond, including: the Mars rover, jetpacks, flying cars and self-driving vehicles.
  • How We Live and Work. Remote-controlled manipulation, 3D printing and robotics.
  • How We Connect. Social media, smart phones and artificial intelligence.

What you need to know

  • Times/dates: Open daily 10am-5pm, Sun Feb 7-Sun May 15
  • Cost: $12 adults, $10 ages 3-17, free ages 2 & under; does not include general admission
  • Location: Arizona Science Center, 600 E Washington St, Phoenix
  • Contact: 602-716-2000 or