George Lucas: The Star Wars Story For Kids

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Well, not really that long ago, and on our same planet, actually…a boy named George Lucas was born in California. George was like many other boys in his day. He liked comic books and rock music and TV shows which were a very new thing in his time. His favorite TV shows were adventure stories with daring heroes who did extraordinary things. Heroes with names like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. In order to buy his favorite things like comic books, George did chores around the house and earned a weekly allowance. One of his chores was mowing their lawn. The only problem was their lawn mower was old, so it could be a very difficult chore. But George had the idea to save up his weekly money and buy a new lawnmower, so the job would be easier! This is called an investment, putting money toward something that will help you later.

When George was in high school he started to love cars. When he was 16 his dad bought him a car, but made sure it was a slow car, because he knew George liked to drive too fast. But George wouldn’t let that stop him from driving fast. He hung around car mechanics and garages and learned how to tinker with car engines, until he figured out how to make his little car drive faster. One of his favorite things to do was to drive around town in his car with his friends. He also liked to race other boys in his car. He liked this so much that someday he wanted to be a race car driver. But one day when George was driving home he was driving very fast and very dangerous. Suddenly his car flipped over and rolled three times. George’s seat belt broke and he was thrown out of the car, just before his car smashed into a tree. An ambulance rushed George to the hospital. He was so hurt they didn’t know if he would survive. But it seemed to be a miracle that he lived and after spending a couple months in the hospital, George got better. George decided being a race car driver wasn’t the best idea, so began looking for something else!

When George went back to school he started doing photography, which means taking pictures. He also decided to take classes to be a filmmaker. A filmmaker is someone who makes movies. George started making short movies and people really liked them. He had an eye for making movies look good and coming up with interesting ideas. His first big movie was about teenagers racing cars just like he did growing up. It was called American Graffiti and to George’s surprise it won many awards and made him a lot of money.

With all of his money from this movie he started to work on his next movie. He remembered all of the TV shows he loved growing up about adventures and space, and thought it would be fun to make a movie like that. His friends told him he should do a more serious movie, but with all of the sad things going on in the world at the time like war, George wanted to do something more positive and exciting. So he started to come up with names and places of his heroes and the far away planets and adventures they would go on. He imagined space battles where ships flew through space and shot lasers at each other. He dreamed up strange aliens and other creatures and made notes about their names and personalities. He would call it The Star Wars. After he wrote down all of the ideas he needed to find a movie company who would pay for the movie. Many of the big companies he asked thought it wasn’t a very good idea. They thought they The Star Wars was silly and no one would watch a movie about a space adventure. But George kept trying until he found a movie company called 20th Century Fox that liked his idea and would give him the money to make it.

Next George Lucas and his friends went to work improving their story. It took them many, many months of trying new characters and stories. Sometimes George got very bored with the work. Many times he had to go to different friends or his wife to get new ideas. After a lot of work and patience he finally had a final story for Star Wars. It would be about a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker who would meet an old Jedi named Obi Wan Kenobi. Together they would find a smuggler named Han Solo, who would help them return the missing droid R2D2 to its owner Princess Leia and rescue her from the evil Darth Vader.

Once the story was approved, George and his team found people to play the parts of their main characters, called actors. He also had a team of artists to turn his ideas into drawings so they could begin to make real costumes and ships and other things for the movie. When videoing the spaceships nothing had been done like this before, so they had to do lots of hard work and thinking to make the spaceships and their battles look real. They had to travel to deserts and other places across the world to film all of the places for their movie.

Challenges in filming, challenges with teams, movie company didn’t give him enough to make the movie, he had to be creative and find ways to do things for less. By the time the movie he was done he wasn’t sure if anyone would like it.  

Finally, when Star Wars was finished, the audiences got to see it. George went to a theater and watched it with other people to see how they liked it. At the beginning when the music and the first space ship appeared on the screen everyone cheered. At the end of the movie the audience cheered and cheered and didn’t stop. They loved it! They were so amazed at what they saw. Nothing like Star Wars had ever been done before! People went back and saw it over and over. Many stood in line for hours just to see it again. George knew he had made a great movie, but had no idea how much people would love it! It became a box office hit, broke many records, and was the most popular movie for many years all over the world.

All of George’s and his teams hard work and creativity had finally paid off. George and his team went on to make two more Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Both movies were also very popular.

A few years later George dreamed up a new hero, who was an archeologist who went on adventures and named him Indiana Jones after his own dog named Indiana. He made this movie with Steven Spielberg and it was also a huge success.

More recently, Disney bought the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 Billion dollars. He has said he would give half of everything he makes to other people in need. Much of this money will go to helping schools.

George Lucas wasn’t afraid to try new things and used his imagination and creativity to come up with new ideas. Often our creative ideas can lead to new and exciting things. If you ever have a new idea or a creative idea be sure to write it down, make your own story, or draw a picture of it. The ideas George had helped spark the imagination of millions, and got many young people interested in things like space and making their own movies. Watching movies is also a good way to relax our brains and open them up to new ideas. Spend some time thinking about what you might do to be creative, since you never know what your own ideas will lead to!

What is a star?

 

Close your eyes and imagine you are standing in a wide open field. In the field you see a gigantic white rocket reaching far up into the sky. As you walk up to the rocket, the door opens and you climb inside and find a seat and buckle up. Next you hear the countdown – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Suddenly the rocket rumbles as it lifts of the ground and shoots through the sky, past the clouds, and up, up, up into space. When you look out the window you see the round blue ball of earth far below.

The rocket is going faster and faster. You zoom past the moon as the rocket picks up speed. Soon the other planets of our solar system pass you by. You look back and notice the earth has grown smaller and smaller until it has disappeared from view. Then suddenly you are traveling at the speed of light, and before long you have left the solar system and are deep into outer space. All is black. You travel further and further until suddenly you look out your window and see a beautiful cloud of dust and gas all swirling together. You have arrived at the place where stars are born. It is called a stellar nursery, which means a star birthing place.

Stars are sort of like people in that they are born, and they grow until they are bigger, and then eventually get old and die. But unlike people stars live for millions or even trillions of years. Our own sun is a star, it’s just a lot closer than the stars we see twinkling in the sky at night that appear so small.

For millions of years clouds of dust and gas in space swirl around each other in what is called a nebula. Over time these clouds slowly group together into clumps that eventually become baby stars — or protostars. Some stars grow bigger and bigger until they become as large as our own sun. And often they have their very own planets, just like our sun has its own planets. These stars become very hot  and bright, which is why when you look up at the sky at night you can see them even though they are sooo far away. To travel to many of these stars would take thousands of years.

The reason we know a lot about how stars are born is because of a space telescope. A space telescope is a telescope that is launched into space and can see better because it is above the earth. The Herschel Space Observatory was built by the European Space Agency and watched where stars were born for 4 years. Because of the hard work of the engineers and astronomers working on this space telescope, we know a lot more about the life of stars.

After changing from clouds of gas and dust many of these baby stars eventually become “main sequence” stars, then sub-giant stars and then red giant stars. Many of these very large stars are thousands of times bigger than our own sun. And our own sun is very, very big.

After millions of years even stars grow old and die. Eventually they begin to collapse in on themselves and then suddenly explode in what is called a supernova. During a supernova they shoot gas and dust for millions of miles around them. Supernovas happen in the universe all the time but often it’s hard for us to see them happening because there are so many stars and they are so far away. The people who study stars are called astronomers. Most astronomers thought the only way to see supernovae would be to use a large telescope run by many astronomers. In Australia there was an amateur astronomer named Robert Evans. He had a normal job during the day, but at night his favorite thing to do was to go on his back porch and use his little telescope to watch the stars. Robert was interested in supernovas, when stars explode, but decided he didn’t need all of the big telescopes to see them. So he started watching for supernovas on his own. For many nights Robert didn’t see anything. But he kept watching and kept waiting, until he saw his first supernova. He was so excited. Over the years Robert has seen 42 supernovae! Which is an amazing achievement. Because Robert is very patient and very diligent he has been able to see when these gigantic stars explode all the way across the galaxy.

When we look out in the night sky we see many stars, but they are very far away. After the sun, the closest star is called Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri is 25 trillion miles away! This gives you a little bit of an idea of how large our galaxy is.

Stars like our sun are very important because they are like huge factories which give off energy and heat. They send this energy in the form of waves that travel all the way across space to Earth. There are many reasons our sun is important. First off, without it would always be night. If it was always night, it would be very hard to see! Also, trees would never grow, because trees need the sun’s energy to grow. Without trees and other plants we wouldn’t have oxygen to breath and animals wouldn’t have food. And without animals and plants we wouldn’t be able to eat either. We would all be in very big trouble! Also, the earth would become very very cold and everything would freeze. Even on hot days, we should be very grateful we have a sun that keeps planet Earth running smoothly.

Next time when you go outside and feel the warm sun on your skin, think about how the sun rays travelled 100 million miles to to make you warm. That’s pretty amazing that an object sooo far away can make its way all the way to you and keep you warm and keep us all alive.

When we learn about how stars and our own sun it makes us grateful for nature and the world around us. And when we understand how important they are it reminds us to respect and take care of what we have.

Tonight think of some ways you can better take care of the Earth, whether it means picking up trash outside or not wasting water or planting flowers or a tree. There are many things around us in nature that we can be curious about and appreciate if we just take the time to notice them.

The Rosetta Comet Mission For Kids

  • Have you ever heard of a comet? A comet is a gigantic piece of ice and rock and dirt that flies through outer space at incredible speeds. Many comets are the size of mountains and when they speed around space have a tail of gasses that can be hundreds of thousands feet long.
  • For a long time humans have seen comets in the sky and wondered what they are. some very smart scientists decided they wanted to learn more about comets so they decided to create a spaceship that would find a comet and land on it. This had never been done before but they knew if they build the spaceship right and worked out all of the math correctly they could make it happen.
  • Many different countries in Europe, designed and started working on the spacecraft they would call Rosetta. It took many different engineers and scientists studying space and spaceships to know how Rosetta should work.
  • Astronomers, scientists who know a lot about space also had to follow the comet Rosetta would land on. They had to use math to figure out how fast Rosetta should go and where it should go to land on the large rocky comet flying around space.
  • When Rosetta was ready they blasted the ship into outer space and someone gave it directions to fly. No one was actually on Rosetta because it would be gone for a very long time and might be a very dangerous mission. They flew it sort of like you might fly a remote controlled helicopter or car.
  • For 10 years Rosetta flew through outer space. It had many adventures there such as passing planets like Mars and asteroids, other rocks in space, many places a spacecraft had never been. After 10 years it finally was close enough to the icy comet speeding through space. All of the engineers and scientists at mission control were very nervous. They had worked very hard for this day and had been very patient waiting 10 years until they could land their ship. When the day finally came they watched in anticipation as Rosetta came into the orbit of the gigantic comet. This comet was as big as a mountain.
  • Attached to Rosetta was a robot that would land on the comet and do experiments to learn more about the comet. When the time was right the lander shot out of Rosetta and raced toward the massive comet below. For a moment it seemed as thought it wouldn’t work, the lander was off track, then suddenly it shot spears out of its side and stuck into the comets ground. It used these hooks and ropes to pull itself down to the ground. When it hit the ground it tumbled and was broken in some places but eventually came to rest. Everyone at mission control cheered. The robot had landed, Rosetta had completed its mission. This was the first time a robot had ever landed on a comet flying through space! The mission was a success!
  • Once the lander, which they had called Phillae had time to recharge its batteries it was able to do a few experiments and send the data back to earth. They learned about the water on comets and some of its metals.
  • Like the scientists and engineers who designed and built Rosetta you can learn all you can about science and other subjects. They had to listen closely and study and do their homework to become skilled at what they do.
  • Astronomers also helped by learning about the stars. You can go out at night and look at the stars and watch shows and read about all of the amazing things happening in the sky above you.
  • Waiting for Rosetta to finally reach the comment also took patience. They had to wait many years until it arrived.
  • Over 2000 people worked on this project. This shows that teamwork is important to make great things happen.
  • What would you like to do when you grow up? Think about it tonight, use your imagination and make a list of the things you can do now to improve yourself, then, pick one of them and start right away.