Don't stop the Detroit Science Center!

By Phil Plait | August 24, 2011 2:00 pm

This may be the best promotion for a science museum I have ever seen.

Wow! What an effort this must’ve been! The Detroit Science Center is a great place; I’ve been there and the staff are truly dedicated and clearly excited about what they do. Full disclosure: I worked with them a few years back to make a planetarium show based on my book and website. But that doesn’t matter here; I would’ve linked to this delightful video anyway.

It took them two weeks to get set up, then they filmed this in one night. Awesome. I think this is really terrific, and shows just how fun a science center can be. My congrats to my friends at DSC! And of course, if you live anywhere near there, give them a visit. You’ll clearly have a good time.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (49)

Links to this Post

  1. Bathroom Science Talk | kateschannel | September 29, 2011
  1. QuietDesperation

    Isn’t Detroit a burned out ruin peopled mainly by irradiated mutants and rats of an unusually large size?

    I tease Detroit! I tease! 😉

    But, seriously, isn’t it just paramilitary street gangs and robocops?

  2. Cindy

    I hope Dr. Brian May didn’t give them any grief for using the song.


    You know you’re from Detroit if…

    1) You hate the goddamn city, but you’ll kick anyone’s ass who disses it.

    2) You can’t get to sleep without the sound of police sirens.

    3) You can buy an outfit, activate your cell phone, and buy lunch at the corner liquor store.

    4) Your liquor store is less than 10 blocks away, but you decide to drive there anyway.

    5) You pull up to a red traffic light, you roll up your windows.

  4. Sarah

    As an adult (without children) who lives near Detroit, I can say that the DSC is really, really fun and it doesn’t matter how old you are. A friend of mine and I went a few years ago, without really knowing what to expect and we totally fell in love with it. I definitely need to go back!

    Also, regardless of what people might think, Detroit really is a great city (even with all it’s many, many problems).

  5. I’ve only been to Detroit once, about 20 years ago.

    Any idea if there’s anything close to this on the east coast, preferably between Boston and DC?

  6. Pat

    Was that all one shot? Jinkies.

  7. UmTutSut

    Brilliantly planned and executed! And yes, it sure looked like one continuous shot, which is just as impressive.

  8. According to the video’s page (linked to in the post):

    The staff did 2 weeks of pre-production to plan things out. Then the production department and the singers rehearsed for 2 more weeks to get it right. Then the members came out for one amazing night and made it awesome! One walk through and five takes later we wrapped it up, all in time to get the kids to bed on time.

    So, it certainly could be one continuous shot. It looks it to me.

  9. Brandon

    As a native Detroiter, I have to say this is awesome.

    Detroit gets a bad rap nationally, but with two major research univerities, a world renowned cancer treatment and research center, and the auto industry in our backyard, it’s a city that is rooted in the sciences. This will hopefully cajole the city and private donors into helping keep the Science Center running. Hopefully, this will also create some interest in the sciences in local young people; we need local talent in the sciences or all of the tech and science jobs that have helped make the city and surrounding areas a standard bearer for science and innovation will move somewhere else.

  10. QuietDesperation

    Detroit gets a bad rap nationally, but with two major research univerities, a world renowned cancer treatment and research center, and the auto industry in our backyard, it’s a city that is rooted in the sciences.

    Yeah, but that’s all in the underground enclaves sealed away from the ravenous hordes of super cockroaches and giant bees, right?

    Are they still (SPOILERS) killing people when they reach the age of 30?

  11. Brandon

    Ok, fine, Detroit is in bad shape. Geez, cut us a break will you? This city is in no worse shape than a lot of other cities, it’s just that we have the rep of being so awful that the stereotype is impossible to break.

    So, I say to you, Detroit bashers, does it feel good to salt our wounds? Does it make you feel like a big man to kick a city while it’s down?
    Look at the excitement of the people who put the video together, and think about them; they gave up precious time to promote sceince and the city.

    Detroit doesn’t have rampaging zombie hordes, killer roaches, mutant bees, or any other post-apocalyptic set pieces. It has people who are in trouble and need help; it has a crumbling infrastructure and no budget to fix it; it has healing to do, and that leaves no time for your hackneyed jokes about how terrible it is.

  12. Hampus
  13. My first job in weather was at a science museum, and as a board member of our local museum Sci-Quest here in Huntsville, I know they are marvellous places.

    The inspiration for the scientists of the future.

  14. Crux Australis

    Must. Visit. Detroit.

    I was smiling through that whole video. If I ever make it across the Pacific, that’s one place I’ll go.

  15. John Sandlin

    I went to the DSC many years ago, while it was still a toddler institution (like in 1978 or 79) in it’s previous incarnation. It had a brief death in 1992 and then a rebirth in 1992 (I think). As far as I know it’s been improving ever since (with a short period of contruction that interrupted normal operation in 2000 and then back online in 2001).

    Heck, it was awesome in 1978.

  16. Tom

    Wow, this makes me proud to be an American, but I’m not sure how. :) ?

  17. Das Boese

    Freddie Mercury would have approved!

  18. QuietDesperation

    So, I say to you, Detroit bashers, does it feel good to salt our wounds?

    Well, yeah, sort of. :-)

    I’m in California. We need all the worse examples we can get to feel better about *our* sinking ship. 😀

    Detroit doesn’t have rampaging zombie hordes, killer roaches, mutant bees, or any other post-apocalyptic set pieces.

    Well, *something* is eating the children and the elderly, and cattle mutilations are up in the surrounding suburbs.

    Have you sent survey teams into the sewers lately? Did they come back with the same number of limbs they entered with?

    General guide:
    1. Same number of limbs = good
    2. Less limbs = panic
    3. More limbs = run. Just run.

    that leaves no time for your hackneyed jokes

    Hackneyed!? This is A-List material, buddy! 😛

  19. Tony Webster

    Whatever difficulties the city might have had or has now doesn’t this make you feel full of hope, joy, excitement, delight, joy?

  20. dani, the lace geek

    @Ken B (#5) – there is the MOST in Syracuse, but that’s not exactly on the way from Boston to DC.

  21. TK421

    I can vouch for the DSC. Always a good visit.

  22. Robert

    I went to the DSC last year at 40 years old… my girlfriend and i just wandering around ended up there..had alot of fun.. and what someone above posted is 100% true… i grew up here..i hate this city and love it… very weird sensation when you realize that:)

  23. Hey Phil,

    Thanks for the shout out. This was an cool creative thing to make and we had a blast doing it.

    For those of you panning Detroit – yes we have some challenges in certain areas. However there are some great areas as well, including Midtown where the Science Center and many other museums and universities are located. Ask Phil about his stay at the Inn on Ferry Street.

    Clear Skies,

    Todd (From the DSC!)

  24. Chas, PE SE

    There must be something with “lipdubs” and Michigan–kinda like creme filled Long John pasteries (found only in Michigan)

    This one has little to do with science, but is a lot less cluttered:

    Ironically, my wife and I had explored those streets and crossed that bridge just two days before this was pointed out to me.

    PS: Find Waldo (there is one)

  25. Aaron

    How could I have lived in this city for so long and never visited the DSC (well not since I was a kid)!? I have to go now. I can’t wait to show my friends this video. Thank you for posting this!

    PS. @IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE “You know you’re from Detroit when … You hate the goddamn city, but you’ll kick anyone’s ass who disses it.” That’s spot on!

  26. Mrs. Jetson

    I live in metro Detroit and have enjoyed many a visit to the Science Center (as well as the DIA and other amazing spots in the city) – it’s absolutely amazing, somehow even moreso than this video can convey.

    And Detroit itself is a beautiful city, unfortunately one with a painful past that it still can’t shake. But more things like this, more institutions willing to break the mold, can bring it back.

  27. Bill

    I was smiling through that whole video.

    Me, too — and tears. I always shed a few happy tears at brilliance, coupled with obvious passion.

    Way to go, DSC! If I’m ever in Detroit, I’m goin’!

  28. MSUexpat

    I love the DSC. I haven’t been back since they reopened (my last time was probably around 1999) and it looks like i’m missing quite a few new exhibits. I always loved the real IMax screen they had in the dome (not like the crappy bigger movie screens you see now) and the apollo era capsule was a huge draw.

    Great, now i need to find some astronaut ice cream.

  29. This may be the coolest thing to come out of Detroit in years! And all in one take!

  30. Oh, and yes, this was one continuous shot – no editing. We did however do 5 takes 😉

  31. Rachel D.

    WOW. Talk about blast from the past – I *loved* that place when I was a kid.
    And QuietDesperation – don’t worry about the ROUS’s though. The CHUDS eat them for a snack. :-)

  32. QuietDesperation

    The CHUDS eat them for a snack.

    I wouldn’t think so. The CHUDS were wiped out as collateral damage by the MolePeople/RadRoach war of 2003-2006, although there is an urban myth that one of the birthing-creche feeders survived.

  33. Jamie

    They were inspired by the Grand Rapids Lip Dub video:
    Also done in one take I believe.

    I’m also a “Detroiter” (ok yeah I live in the suburbs) and visit downtown Detroit several times a year for Tiger games, concerts, Red Wing games, and the occasional visit to the DSC (was there when they had the Star Trek exhibit–that was cool :)). Didn’t find any Zombie hoards there during any of my visits (the Zombie walks usually happen in the suburbs anyway!).

  34. Jim

    I’m sure the ballistics exhibit is the best of its kind.

  35. For those of you who are bandwidth challenged, there is a low rez version on you tube

  36. llb

    From one Science Center to another… DSC ROCKS!!!
    Keep up the great work!!

  37. Chris A.

    Impressive, if for no other reason that the place is big enough to see something different throughout a fast-paced, nearly seven minute walk-through.

  38. Mike Mac

    There is also a new-ish science center in Hartford, CT.

  39. QuietDesperation

    Didn’t find any Zombie hoards

    Of course not. What would a zombie hoard if zombie hordes could hoard a hoard? Woodchucks?

  40. AC

    This article would suck less if the pictures loaded.

  41. I’m a long-time member of the DSC (shoutout to Todd S above!). I saw Phil there once, and we STILL kept renewing our membership >insert rimshot here<!

  42. cabri

    The DSC is a great museum! They had the Star Trek exhibit there a few years back, one of the few selected for it nationwide. I was so jealous of the couple who won the privilege of getting married on the bridge of the Enterprise! There are a lot of great permanent exhibits too and also one of the two big IMAX screens in metro Detroit. Right across the street is the Detroit Institute of Art, behind it is the Center for Creative Studies, a block away are the Detroit Historical Museum and the Detroit Public Library, and just a few blocks away the Detroit Children’s Museum — you need a week to visit them all!

  43. Heather

    My kids have gone there for the week-long summer camps they offer (full-day with before- and after-care options, with a cost slightly above the zoo’s half-day camps). It was fun to watch this video with them and hear, “That’s where we did X–that’s where the really cool part–I remember when such-and-such…”
    It’s a gem and fun for all ages–toddlers on up.

  44. Paul

    My late father who was the museum’s architect would have been very pleased to see so many people enjoying the building and learning.

  45. We have grown accustomed to using terms like “great experience” and “fantastic time” when describing our visits to the Detroit Science Center, but upon being greeted by an ebullient, smiling Kelly at the front desk, we knew that we were in for something very special. After a delicious repast provided by the DSC, we were briefed on the Lip Dub and the part we were to play. This event was far better than we had ever hoped for. The excitement and enthusiasm displayed by everyone involved made college and professional sports playoff games look like Mrs. McGumphries knitting circle. Lights! Camera! Action! Charlie at the keyboard thew a switch and 10,000 volts surged through the participants. From “Super Lindsay” to “Easy Rider” Freeman, the house was rockin’. Doctors and dinosaurs, aliens and astronauts rattled the rafters. The excitement kept building to a fever pitch as the singing and dancing reached a crescendo. Move over, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, here comes Nino “Cool-Breeze” Torres. Fortunately, Todd the Astronomer is familiar with things being blasted out of Earth orbit as the singing reverberated around him, and that tremor you might have felt around 8 o’clock the night of the 18th was not an earthquake but was the result of nearly 400 people shakin’ the house down. WOOOHOOO!! What a fantastic time! We have viewed the lip dub on so many times that the images are permanently burned into our video monitor and once you see it you will surely say “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I want to see it again!

  46. Ronbo

    At one point, the science center was closed due to state budget cuts. Then it was revived, and the new center’s fundraising got rolling with a $5 million grant from the state. Remember that as people talk about needing to cut budgets, wonderful educational projects like this are usually the first to go. And when they say government can’t accomplish anything, while it was the effort of many volunteers and private donors, there was also a helping hand from the state government (in other words, the taxpayers of Michigan) to make this miracle happen

  47. Nigel Depledge

    Quiet Desperation (18) said:

    General guide:
    1. Same number of limbs = good
    2. Less limbs = panic
    3. More limbs = run. Just run.

    I object to this!

    Number 2 should say “fewer limbs”, not “less”.


  48. Great post. Thanks for supporting the DSC. This morning my daughter spoke about how sad she is about the DSC closing. She is eight and loves science. I couldn’t help but blog about her discussion with me.


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