Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

What a Great Space Center Leadership Camp: Ten Years Ago at the Space Center. See the Time Lapse Dismantling of the Galileo. Imaginarium Theater.

Ben Murdoch Disturbing a perfectly good photo of me in lecture mode during a camp

Leadership Camp 2010.  

By Alex Anderson

July 27, 2010.

For those of you that only read the first line of every post, the Leadership Camp was amazing. Now that I have that aside…

This years leadership camp was in planning for at least 8 months. I was brought onboard when Adam Hall, Ben Murdoch, Wyatt Lenhart, and Jon Parker told me about their plans for it: creating a brand new race (or, in this case, group of races) to battle against. It gave us something fresh to start with, instead of having to follow along with conventional races, like the Dominion from last year. We could use our creative muscles to imagine something new. They had a basic idea of each of the races, and a few of the rotations planned.

As January rolled around, we finished fleshing out the details of these new antagonists, how they used to live in the Delta Quadrant until they got kicked out by the Borg, and their fanatical ‘manifest destiny’ to live in the Alpha Quadrant, etc. The missions themselves had begun to take shape too, but as far as I know, only a few of the ones made up in January actually made it to the camp.

Wyatt Lenhart in Full Klingon Mode

A lot of effort was put into this camp in the months before hand. We scripted and filmed a few of these commercials, and posted them to the internet (FYI, between all 3, we have about 1,100 hits). This commercial also served as the introduction to these new aliens. We had to craft brand new space ship controls for a captured alien vessel. Jon put together a fantastic book of all Starfleet ships, as a reference for the captains. All the while, the rotations were being revised and rewritten. The Flight Directors were part of this process from the beginning, and their contributions definitely made the different missions more interesting and entertaining.

Finally, the actual day of the camp arrived. From what I could see, everything was in place and ready. Mr. W said that he would be in charge enough to make sure things were safe. The rest of the camp was up to Jon and me. On top of that, we had more than a dozen campers from last years Leadership Camp, and a few space center staff as well. The pressure was on.

Emily Perry Paxman and Adam Hall in the Odyssey Control Room

The classes for this year were taught by three outstanding instructors: Emily Perry was teaching applied leadership in the Voyager simulator, Bracken Funk had public speaking, and Casey Voeks explained how people’s psyches can affect leadership. At first, I wasn’t sold on these class choices, but as the camp went on, I could see the campers using the information they learned to help them in the rotations. The campers were very engaged in each class, and definitely brought something away from them. Heartfelt thanks to our amazing instructors.

Jon and I finished up the first night with the briefing of the entire campaign, and then, to honor tradition, Jon read a very moving speech (On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - Dave Grossman) The room was very still as his words finished. We tied the whole thing together, wrapped it all up, and then sent everyone off to bed. They would need their sleep.

The next morning, everybody seemed to be loving today. Their was excitement as the crews piled into Discovery. We explained each of the rotations to the crews, assigned captains, and then sent them on their way. The crews received no training; they had to figure out their own stations. Once that was done they were on their way.

First rotations was probably the roughest for the campers. There were a lot of deaths, the refugees they were supposed to save were killed, and the Voyager and Odyssey were destroyed. The campers were still light hearted, until Jon said a few words (More like chewed them out) Tension was high as they began their next rotation.

2nd rotation ended with the Magellan’s capture, and the crew being branded as failures. They were supposed to evacuate, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They tried to get their bridge back, but failed. During dinner, there was a lot of question about their consequences. Some said send them home (which was out of the question, but was considered), other said take away their hours. Finally, it was decided to make them part of the ASA.

We sent them swimming; I went with to manage some business when it was over. Bracken got caught up in the middle of an epic basket ball game with the boys vs. girls. There were only 5 girls on the whole camp. Epic.

Meanwhile, back at the space center, preparations were made, assignments passed out, phasers organized, and staff costumed.

Spencer Merryweather. A Great Voyager Volunteer

Swimming was over. I gathered all the campers around. Magellan crew was segregated; they were prisoners of the DC. The rest were organized into strike teams. We planted each of the strike teams at different corners of the school, told them they were taking Magellan back, and let them at it. We called it the ASA.

Last year, the ASA was a complete failure. This year, we decided to make it a little easier, but a little harder at the same time. We gave them specific objectives, but their objectives depended on each other. They completed it successfully, later than we wanted, but no more than we had planned. Back off to bed. Third rotation was slightly shorter than the others, and there really isn’t a lot to write. Lunch on Saturday featured the appearance of Hauck’Toaei, the disgruntled Klingon Chef who was forced to serve Pakled food (which turned out to be a messy ordeal.)

Just Some of the People Who Held the CMSEC Together Ten Years Ago. Brittany, Kevin, Bridger, Alex, Kyle, and
several of our younger Black Shirt volunteers.

Fourth rotation took a leaf out of last year’s camp. Mass Chaos was a Galileo/Odyssey joint mission where they had to blow up several targets. They got to plan and choose their targets together as they received messages from intel telling them where Dominion fleets were located. We tried to copy that this year, but instead of two ships, we would have five.

It didn’t work out as well as planned. The rotation began alright; Jon walked in, seemingly ready to brief when suddenly alarms played: Magellan was under attack! Chaos ensued in the hallways. Staff were bloodied up as if the station had exploded on them. Doctors ran through the halls tending to them. Screams pierced the halls. Campers ran to their ships as fast as they could.

Meanwhile, the captains were supposed to plan out what they were going to do. We had printed a huge map of the sector with a dozen targets. We planned on this section lasting 30 minutes. It lasted 5.

This was the most intense communication we have ever had between simulators. A chat system was set up so flight directors could always be on the know about where the ships were and what they were doing. Long range messages were sent through chat too. It was amazing how well that worked.

In the end, the Odyssey found the DC’s weakness, while all the other ships had re-docked with Magellan. We all waited in anticipation as the Odyssey told Magellan where they were…

Stephanie Blackman as the Phoenix Doctor

And Magellan went to transwarp to the wrong place! All the flight directors were in the Magellan freaking out about it! Eventually, they did get the message, readjusted their course, and made it there in time to hit the DC where it hurts. An ambassador (Jon) came aboard the Magellan, an armistice (big word meaning peace treaty) was signed, and the camp was over.
A few things I noticed at the end: the communication and cooperation between ships and campers was fantastic. I also felt like the campers came together in a way I had never seen in a space camp. I don’t know how well they knew each other before, but they really couldn’t stop talking to one another after the camp.

I would just like to thank a bunch of people who made this happen.  First, the campers. We got the camp filled in April, much earlier than last year. They were fantastic kids (teens?) and great sports about everything. I couldn’t have asked for better.

The CMSEC Staff Lined up for After Camp Votes

Second, the staff. We had around twenty of the Space Center’s finest. First, thanks for being so awesome. We wouldn’t have had you on the camp if we didn’t think you could do it. Second, thanks for pulling through without complaint. I could see that you guys were tired by Friday night, but you still pulled through all the way to the end. I suppose that deserves a congratulations as well.

Third, to the Flight Directors, Supervisors, and everyone else who contributed to the planning and carrying out of the camp. We never could have done it as well (at all) without your help.

I would like to personally thank Jon for being a fantastic host for the camp. He organized it from start to finish and it almost seemed like he knew what he was doing the whole time. Thanks for giving us all the opportunity to do this. It definitely wouldn’t have happened without you.

Wyatt, Ben and Adam

Finally, thanks to Mr. Williamson. Because of a crazy decision you made 20 years ago, we can all make crazy decisions today! The Space Education Center isn’t just for teaching the campers that come. It teaches the staff too. I for one have been taught countless things while working here. Thank you for actually doing your job as a teacher, instead of just working for a living.

Will the leadership camp happen next year? Maybe. I don’t know yet. But if it doesn’t, I know we have done it justice. If it does, the bar has been raised. Lets just see what the next year brings us.

As always, it is a pleasure to work with everyone.

Alex Anderson.

Today's News from the Christa McAuliffe Space Center

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Summer Camp Season Finished. I'm Heading Home. A Quiet Conversation at the Wonderland Station. Also, An Update with Photos on the New Space Center's Construction. And Another Also, This Week's Imaginarium Theater! Welcome Back Troubadour. We're In the Saddle Again.

Waiting at the Wonderland Station. Our Vacation Starts.

The Troubadour.  Ten Years Ago this Week.  August 1, 2010.  
The last summer camp was done. The staff and volunteers were heading home for their well deserved and short summer vacation before the 2010-2011 school year started.  I wrote this as a thank you and to emphasize how our work at the CMSEC sparked waves of creativity and inspiration in our campers.

I stood on the platform and waited for the next train. It was quiet, no sound at all except for the humming of a young lady waiting on the station's one turquoise bench. She was dressed in white. Her yellow handbag and jacket rested beside her.

“It’s not very busy tonight.” I tossed the statement in her direction to test the waters hoping for a bit of conversation to fill the quiet punctuated by the cold concrete.
“Everything is either closed or closing for a few weeks," she said. I was relieved she took my invitation to explore a conversation. Sharing a train platform with one other person is similar to riding an elevator with a total stranger - except the time between trains is longer than a journey between floors.

“You’re the director of the Space Center?” she asked.
“Yes I am.”
“So you’re the reason then.”
“Reason for what?” I wondered out loud.
“The reason I’m off for a few weeks. You’re closing and that puts Wonderland on minimal staffing. Thanks a lot!” she said mildly annoyed. A moment later a faint smile delivered the sarcasm.

“Where do you work?” I questioned.
“The Imaginarium. Its a sub section of the Ministry of Wonder. I’m an office assistant in the Office of Joinings," She replied.

“Oh, I see. And how does the closing of the Space Center affect the Ministry of Wonder?” My question was an honest one. The Ministry of Wonder was enormous in scope and size with the Imaginarium only a small division of the whole.

The Office of Joinings

“My office is responsible for the inspiration that comes from imagining what might be, from what Is.”

I walked closer and asked if it was OK to sit with her. She nodded and extended her hand in welcome. I sat on the opposite side of the bench leaving one square of turquoise between us.

“So, let me see if I understand what you just said. Your office creates images of the future based on what we experience around us in real life?”

“Got it in one,” she smiled and reached into her purse for a stick of chewing gum.

She opened the package and held it out. “Would you like a piece?” ‘

“Yes, thank you,” I replied. I took the gum. The gum had an odd taste, sort of a mixture of hazelnut and raspberry. “Where did you buy this?” I inquired.

“There’s a little shop around the corner from the Ministry. It’s awesome, you walk in, wait for a clerk and then imagine your favorite flavor or flavors. A moment later you're handed the gum you imagined.”

“Is this shop a product of the Imaginarium?”

“Yes, mine actually," She replied with pride. "An imagination came across my desk several weeks ago from a young girl in Nebraska. She had it while waiting to purchase a pack of gum at her local WalMart. The line was long so she had time to daydream. And when you day dream you open the door to my Departement. Her thoughts told me she was tired of her usual brand of gum and was looking for something different. Well, I also knew from reading the print out that she had just come from lunch at a pizza restaurant with a build your own salad bar.”

“Stop, let me take it from here,” I interrupted.

“Go right ahead.”

“You put the two thoughts together to create a vision of What Could Be from What Was. You took her memory of a build your own salad bar and combined it with a desire to build her own gum flavor.”

“You got it. We call that a Joining in the trade. I do Joinings all day long. That is what I do.”

A strong gust of wind moved through the station announcing an approaching train. It was the Express from Inspiration. Express trains never stop at the Wonderland Station. We had to wait for the local train.

The train sped by. The people inside were framed in the windows. They looked tired and ready for home and supper. Their work was grueling, having to managing Inspiration day in and day out. My hat was off to them.

A few moments later the platform was still again.

“So, you Joined the images and created a thought. Then what?” I continued the conversation with my bench mate.

“The girl imagined such a place where you could mix and match your gum flavors and when she did, it became real here in Wonderland.”

“Will it stay?” I asked.

“Only as long as she revisits the thought. The shop becomes an anchor point in her imagination. A place for her to mentally visit whenever she chooses. What’s cool is how the shop changes its shape and design every time she imagines something different. Today it looked like that wand shop in Diagon Alley. Tomorrow it may look like something else.”

“And when she gives up the idea?” I asked.

“Then the shop disappears?” she replied.

"Never to come back?"

"Not unless someone else Imagines it." We sat quietly, each staring a some point in the concrete.

I thought back to the starting point of our conversation.
“OK, so getting back to the original question. How does closing the Space Center for a few weeks so we can recharge our own imaginations, affect the Imaginarium - A Sub Section of the Ministry of Wonder?”

“You have no idea how busy we are when the Center is running at full steam," She answered. "The imaginations you help create in those kid's minds pour into our Department filling our In Baskets to the point of burying us. You fill their minds with Wonder at what could be based on what they’re experiencing in the real world. Our job is to join the two images and inspire them to go out and make what they experienced real. Now, suddenly you close and the cascade of ideas and thoughts goes from the raging Niagara to the dribble of a leaky faucet.”

“And the department lays off its staff.” I said.

“The Department has a budget. With this economy every penny counts.”

“Well, we open for the school year on August 20th. You’ll be back to work then," I assured her.

She smiled and reached for her bag. A strong wind from the dark tunnel blew across the platform. Our train was approaching. We stood and walked towards the platform’s edge. The train’s powerful headlamps appeared first, piercing the darkness with 3 yellow lights. The lights grew brighter and brighter until the body of the train emerged. It slowed to a stop, a moment later the automatic doors slid open to welcome us aboard.

“After you,” I said, reaching out to hold the automatic doors open until we were both safely inside.

“Thank you,” she replied.

The train jolted to life. I reached for the nearest hand strap  attached to a metal bar running the length of the coach. The Wonderland Platform, with its blue and red sign, disappeared into the dark.

My vacation had started.

Thank you staff and volunteers for a wonderful, imaginative, creative and inspirational 2010 summer camp season.  See you all back in the saddle again soon for a busy school year and a new season of weekend overnight camps!

Mr. Williamson

Christa McAuliffe Space Center Update
James Porter, Director

June Update
 T - 00:06 Engineering Panel Upgrades
     In June we held the final round of our Engineering Panel Competition. Three amazing panels had been created in just a few short months even with all of the turmoil going on in the world. Each team presented to our judges new panel concepts that not only add enhanced educational connections, but responsive integrations with our Thorium software. Two of the panels give access to systems never built into physical controls with life support and fire suppression entries.

The Ford Family Team

     A huge congratulations to all three teams that participated and achieved a huge leap forward in starship operations. Ultimately the top prize went to the Ford family team and their Subsystems panel. They were awarded their $500 cash prize made available through an Adobe grant. 

     Now we turn to converting the prototype models into versions built to withstand stressed crew members and the rigors of space travel.

     This is another of the amazing new features we are so excited to be developing for our new facility. Though our launch has encountered a bit of a “weather delay” we are still progressing forward with an amazing program that we look forward to sharing with everyone this fall. So find your lost isolinear chips, zip up your jumpsuit, and refresh those circuitry skills because there are many challenges awaiting you thanks to the talents of these amazing panel engineers.

Photo Update on the Construction of the new Christa McAuliffe Space Center.  

Photos from the CMSC's Facebook Page.  Be sure to Like the CMSC's Facebook Page for Regular Updates.

     It looks like an end of September opening for the new Christa McAuliffe Space Center. The construction is coming along nicely.

Imaginarium Theater
The best videos from around the world edited for a gentler audience