New York has gotten Star Trek fever this 50th anniversary year, just like everyplace else. I didn't attend the big convention in Manhattan earlier this month, but I did enjoy a rare Trek-themed exhibit at the USS Intrepid: the Starfleet Academy Experience. My Trekkie pals Bibi and Eric came to town to join me on this adventure. We had a good time. The Intrepid is an aircraft carrier that served with distinction during World War 2, and now it functions as an overpriced military and maritime history museum, docked on the west end of midtown Manhattan. The Starfleet exhibit was in a seperate area to the side of the vessel.
Scanning a Klingon patient with a tricorder.
It was a perfect summer day. Bibi and Eric arrived earlier than I had expected, so we had time to take in a street fair on Eighth Avenue (Eric had an arepa for the first time), followed by a proper lunch at Two Boots Pizza on Ninth. Then we headed for the pier.
A hologram of a Starfleet officer greets you to the exhibit, followed by a timeline of Trek's future history, from the Eugenics Wars and Khan, to Zefram Cochrane's warp flight, to Jonathan Archer, the Romulan Wars and the founding of the Federation, through select highlights of the events leading up to the Trek movie Nemesis.
The exhibit consists of games and interactive activities designed to "train" you for a "career" in Starfleet. At the outset, you're given a wristband with some manner of thingamajig that lets you access the displays when you touch it to a Starfleet emblem at each station. For example, you're "trained" in each field - tactical, engineering, communications, medical, etc. - and you take a mini-test where you answer questions based on Trek knowledge and plain common sense. It's like those annoying quizzes you see your friends on Facebook take all the time that tell you which Harry Potter character you are, or what your hippie name is, or something like that.
Uniforms from the shows on display.
You can examine a patient with a tricorder (a greatly simplified one, of course); learn how to speak Klingon from a native; get "beamed" in a transporter and have the experience recorded on a digital file; plot a course to get the Enterprise to DS9 safely; take phaser target practice; and more. Yes, you can even take the Kobayashi Maru test on a simulated bridge of the Enterprise-D.
There was only one working phaser practice station working (of two), so we had a bit of a wait. It was basically a shoot-em-up video game, whwhereyou hold the phaser like a Wii, aiming at different targets on the screen. I thought there was a split-second delay between pressing the button and the reaction, but I had a sucky score, so I have to blame something. All three of us had sucky scores, but Bibi's was the highest. She also did the best at the Kobayashi Maru test. There was no way to cheat on it, as far as I could tell. I was tops, however, in navigating the safest course for the Enterprise, and I didn't do too badly in speaking Klingon.
Replica of the Enterprise-D bridge.
In the end, you're presented (through your e-mail address) a certificate of completion indicating which field you're best suited for. I'm gonna be a tactical officer, it seems, while Bibi's going into communications and Eric in sciences. We were all pretty pleased with the results. They suited us.
We enjoyed the exhibit. We thought it was geared more toward the casual or non-fan than to diehards like us, which waisn't necessarily bad. Bibi reminded me of the old Las Vegas exhibit - she hadn't been there, but she had heard it was way better. Maybe it was. Me, I'm just glad Bibi and Eric made the trip down to go to this with me.