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Sunday, April 15, 2018

I Climbed the Five Flights of Stairs and Saw the Promised Land of Simulator Based Learning for the Masses (or My Visit to InfiniD and the Amazing Things I Saw). The Space Center's New Flag. Theater Imaginarium.

InfiniD's Creative Cocoon's inhabitants pouring over demonstrations of the latest in simulator software

     On Friday, April 6th I was invited by my good friends at InfiniD Learning to visit their secluded Creative Cocoon hidden away atop the fifth floor of Telos Academy in Vineyard, Utah. I know my way around Telos from my weekly Space EdVentures meetings held with Dr. Anderson and the Telos Discovery Space Center gang, but gaining access to the InfiniD Level takes a bit of doing.  
     "I'm here to visit InfiniD," I said to the young Telos receptionist on the ground floor.  She looked a bit confused, then understood.  
     "The people on the top floor?" she questioned.  
     "Yes.  Can I take the elevator?" I asked kindly. I didn't want to walk all the way up if it could be avoided.  
     "No, the elevator doesn't go where they are.  You'll need to take the stairs. Do you want me to show you?" Navigating the stairwell wasn't the problem. Getting them to open the door when the InfiniD Imagineers are light years away riding waves of pure imagination was.  She grabbed her keys and up the many stairs we climbed.  Happily the door at the top was open and into one of the nation's centers of innovation and creativity did I step.  
     "Mr. Williamson!" I heard from up and down the hallway. It was a kind reception offered to someone noticeably out of breath and sporting lips with a light blue hue. 

The Vineyard Telos Campus, Home to the Telos Discovery Space Center and InfiniD Learning

     Casey Voeks sat me next to him and gave me a full description of the architecture behind InfiniD's next generation software.  I won't say I was blown away, that phrase isn't suitable for someone soon to be six decades old in June (I can't bring myself to say sixty).  Let me say I was impressed with the sophistication programed into the controls.  A level of sophistication that will make the new simulator software simple to operate yet robust enough to easily run an InfiniD Lab in any school worldwide - even that elderly teacher who still takes attendance with paper and pencil and calculates grades with an abacus.  
     I hesitated to offer an idea or two thinking Casey might reply by saying, "Thank you Mr. Williamson, but your ideas are as dated as your wardrobe."  Instead he kindly listened and may use them.  
     "Hey, let's get you a permanent and forever place in InfiniD lab simulators," Casey said.  "We're going to program an 'Admiral Williamson's' quarters into the ship's deck plans. There you go, you're going to live on beyond the grave."  There was something reassuring in his words.  Think of the thousands and thousands of students who will forever wonder who this Admiral Williamson is and why he isn't the one commanding their ship on the bridge.

InfiniD's Programming Team:  Brian Peterson, Danny Harding, Amy Jeppson,  Braysen Goodwin, and Alex Wilson

      At the end of the room sat the programmers converting Casey's imagineering, ramblings, simple drawings, and inspirations into code; not an easy task at all.
     "Casey, what is this?" one of them held up a note with writing that resembled my old doctor's handwritten prescriptions from thirty years ago. 
     "Look at me," Casey replied. "Look right into my eyes. I'll transfer my thoughts into your brain. It's the fastest way to explain."   Yes folks, these InfiniD folks are psychically connected. It has to do with quantum entanglements or something.  

InfiniD's Graphic Art Team. Connor Thompson, Carson Thompson, and Kendrick Gines.

     The graphic artists sit at the other end of the room illustrating the look and feel of the InfiniD controls, universe, and curriculum.  During the morning "Show and Tell" meeting we walked from station to station looking at their latest creations.  I kept thinking how nice it would be if I had a team of artist like this to help me with my Voyager missions.  Can I just say that this new software is going to be a game changer for the space edventuring world.   

Isaac Baker, InfiniD's young intern, working on an idea for an InfiniD school based club.  He comes down from Layton
to meet with the team. That is dedication.
After the Friday "Show and Tell" session. Time to eat and collaborate.
     Casey Voeks, Skyler Carr, and Brooks Heder are the Henry Fords of this educational movement begun so long ago in room 19 at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  Henry Ford changed the way automobiles were manufactured. He invented the assembly line. Until then, cars were made one by one in shops. With Ford's innovations, cars became mainstream and less expensive to purchase and maintain.  InfiniD is pioneering the very concepts of what simulators are and how simulations are run in the educational setting.  
     Having to build expensive simulators was the main thing that stifled the adoption of simulator based experiential learning.  InfiniD has that problem solved with their computer lab InfiniD simulators.
     Another brake on simulator learning was talent. Even if your school could afford to build a brick and mortar dedication starship simulator, who would run it?  Who has that rare combination of creativity, technological knowledge, political correctness, educational background, acting skills, love of science fiction, love of simulation learning, and patience - lots of patience? These people are rare. InfiniD is solving that problem by developing software which takes almost all of the heavy lifting of running a simulator off the backs of an educator or aide and puts it into the software. To sum up, InfiniD is finding the ways to make simulators and experiential learning affordable and doable for the masses.

Brooks Heder led a team building discussion after lunch
      I enjoyed my time in InfiniD's sky high Creative Cocoon.  The team is young and enthusiastic.  They have a vision and a desire to change the way children learn.  This type of learning is the future, whether it be in school based simulators or through virtual reality - it is the future.  InfiniD wants to be in the forefront.
     Is there then a place for school based full sized dedicated simulators like the ones found at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, Telos Discovery Space Center, The Lions Gate Center, Dream Flight Adventures, and Farpoint?  Absolutely!  These places are destination learning centers. They offer camps, parties, corporate retreats, field trips, classes, planetarium shows, etc. They offer targeted learning experiences in more depth than can be offered in a laboratory that functions both as a school computer lab and a simulator. However, as I said earlier, such Centers are destinations. You travel to them to experience simulations on a grander scale. They are not, and never will be, an item you find in every school district due to their construction costs and staffing. Both InfiniD computer lab simulators, and dedicated starship simulator sets fulfill a purpose unique to themselves.     
     To learn more about InfiniD and find out how you can have an InfiniD Lab in your school, contact Brooks Heder.  He'll be happy to come out and do a demonstration for your school's administrators and teachers.

Mr. Williamson    

Mason of Gallifrey, the CMSEC's Resident Time Lord and Consultant of Historical Truths, Designs the Space Center's New Flag.

     I had the opportunity to acquire one of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic flag poles after the games ended and had it delivered to the school. I wanted the flagpole to fly the flag of the earth over the school and space center.  Maybe some of you old time staff and volunteers remember the flag.

The Flag of the Earth

     It was large and looked real good fluttering against the blue sky.  Over the following year or two Utah's weather had its way with the flag.  I had it taken down and never purchased another.  They were expensive and didn't want to make it a regular expense.  The flagpole sat flagless for the last 13 years until this month. 

     Mr. James Porter, Director of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, sponsored a staff and volunteer flag design contest.  Mason, the Space Center's resident Time Lord, submitted the winning design. 

Mason, the Time Lord
     I have my suspicions on where he got the idea.  Using his Tardis, I suspect Mason travelled into the future, looked at the flag high atop the flagpole, returned to the present, drew what he had seen and submitted it to Mr. Porter to secure the win. Mason denies it. He even denies his heritage as a Time Lord, but anyone with eyes can see what he sports on his wrists.  

Mason's Collection of Time Lord Wrist Apparel

     So the next time you drive by the Space Center stop, get out of your car, and salute this new flag flying proudly over the second happiest place on Earth (sorry if my Disney Proud is showing)

Mr. Williamson

Theater Imaginarium
The Best Gifs from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Memory Lane Posts. February 2002. Is Shadows Too Scary? A Troublemaker on the Overnighter. A Typical Field Trip Day. Staff and Volunteer Specialization. Scoring Field Trips, A New Approach. Bryson Lystrup Scores Big Time. The Imaginarium.

The Magellan Admiral is Ready to Start the Overnight Camp Mission (2007) 

Is Shadows too Scary for the Overnight Campers? The Leveling of missions. What to do with an Overnight Camp Troublemaker.
February 3, 2002

Last Friday we had 45 campers -All from Barratt Elementary School. The Magellan staff reported they were their best groups in months. They expressed satisfaction with the crew's attention to detail, ability to operate the simulator, and discipline.

All the other simulators reported good crews. The Voyager, on the other had, had a pretty normal crew. I operated on Level -1. Tex did most of the commanding. That keeps the mission moving toward an end. Operating on Level -1 (that's negative 1) the command officers are bypassed most of the time. That leads to low scores for the mission and job satisfaction from the Captain and First Officer but it can't be helped. If they can't do the job then Tex has to do it for them. 

We had another officer that didn't enjoy the flight. The Left Wing officer seemed disturbed by the Shadows mission. He did his job just fine but his review was poor for the story. I saw him leave with his Dad. He didn't look happy. I heard his dad ask what was wrong. He didn't answer. "Did something Bad happen?" his dad asked. I didn't hear the answer. They were moving out the door. I would like to know if it was his job he didn't like or was the mission too intense for him. In his reviews he mentioned the Odyssey was his favorite ship. 

The Magellan Crew Ready is bathroomed and ready to enter Discovery for their Mission Briefing (2007)

I realize Shadows may be too intense for some of our campers. I was told this week from another camper that attended last week that he had been having nightmares about the Shadows mission. I asked if he wished he hadn't done the mission. "No Way!" was his response. "That mission was the Best!!!" So, even with nightmares, there are those that like 
the mystery and a good scare. I wish we could somehow screen kids to see who has the ability to handle a scare. That may have saved our poor Left Wing officer from not enjoying his camp. 

As you can see, I listen for feedback from campers. I listen to every comment. That is how one grows and improves. 

We did have a little problem when we put the kids to bed. Landon was sleeping with the kids in Discover and Bryson in the Magellan. Shortly after I had gone to bed Landon had brought one of the boys into me for loud talking and goofing off. He had been warned and wouldn't 
stop. I had the boy get his stuff and took him into the Magellan. I put two pads down for him and told him to stay there. The rest of the kids in the Magellan were sound asleep. We normally don't use the Magellan but the number were perfectly divided on this camp. There 
were too many boys for the Discovery. I don't like using the Magellan because of the steps and limited lighting. We did have the blue lights on giving enough light for all to find their way around without too much trouble. 

And now, those famous words.

That is all..................

Mr. Williamson

The Overnight Camp Galileo Crew (2007)
Casey Voeks Loves Longer Missions
February 6, 2002

I was the Admiral on the flight last summer when it was 8 hours long and I have to say that was my best visit to the Space Center as a participant. It was my cousin from Las Vegas' first time and he thought the Magellan was the neatest thing.... I enjoyed 10 forward, 
but did lose a lot of focus on the mission as the result of 10 forward. To any who worked the 8 hour magellan missions. GREAT JOB! I guess I'm saying long summer missions, YES!!!

Casey (K.C.) V. (Pioneer......)

The Phoenix Crew Poses for a Final Picture Before their Tragic End on the Overnight Camp. (2007)

The Typical Field Trip Day. Chris Call Gets Sick on the Overnight Camp. The Falcon's Network is Working!  Will Staff and Volunteering Specialization Work?
February 10, 2002

I want to take a minute and describe a typical daytime field trip for most of you that don't work during the school day. In fact, there are only a few of us familiar with daytime operations: Myself, Lorraine Houston, Jennifer Remy, Fred Olsen, Mark Daymont, Chris Call, Kyle Herring, Stephen Porter, Bill Schuler, Dave Wall, David Merrell,and now Metta Smith. What an awesome group of people. Our current daytime staff consists of me, Lorraine, Jennifer, Chris, Mark, Fred, Stephen, Kyle,and Metta. All of them understand the 
vision of the Center. Each brings and contributes their own unique strengths. I stand in awe at what has been accomplished! Who would think that a teacher's dream and the vision, determination, and the devoted labor of exceptional people could convince a school district to allow and support what we have at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. I'm amazed - there are no other words to describe it. 

My workday begins at 8:00 A.M. when I arrive and unlock the door of the briefing room On goes the computer to read and respond to your emails and return phone calls. Shortly after my arrival comes Joey Parkins. Joey cleans the Voyager and Odyssey every morning. Joey is a 6th grader here at Central. The bell rings at 8:45 A.M. and my Pre-Algebra students begin filtering into the room. Questions are asked - stories are told, adventures embellished - all before the the 8:55 A.M. bell. From 8:55 to 9:45 I teach Central Elementary School's 17 
brightest math students. Several of these kids humble me. They are really good! I can tell that in a few years they will easily overtake my understanding of math. 

Jennifer Remy usually comes first - around 9:30  A.M. She starts the Voyager and preps it for the day. She checks the Odyssey. If Chris is running late she starts it. Chris Call and Lorraine Houston arrive around 9:45 A.M. Chris goes right to the Odyssey. Lorraine heads straight outside to greet our guests. Two classes arrive at 9:45 A.M. Some arrive earlier and some later. Their lunches are stored in the cafeteria. The classes split. One goes toward the cafeteria and one to the 6th grade restrooms. Bathroom break and then round 1. 

Fred Olsen takes one class into the Starlab followed by the class session. Lorraine takes the second group to the Voyager. Our fifth grade volunteers are in costume ready to load. Security comes through the revolving door first to be dressed. The rest of the class is admitted. They filter their way through the Voyager. In the crew quarters they get into uniform. I wait for them at the top of the staircase to seat them. Once everyone is on the bridge Chris escorts the Odyssey crew off the bridge. I shout, "Room Attention, the Captain's coming to the Bridge!". The rest is pretty much like all other programs. They train 
by cassette tape. There is usually just over 1 hour for their mission. The morning rotation ends at 11:45 A.M. The simulator group go to lunch. Earlier, at 11:25 A.M. Mark escorted the A.M. class to lunch so they would be ready to board at 11:55 A.M. 

The afternoon session starts as the class boards at 11:55 A.M. It ends at 1:45 P.M. This routine is done 4 days a week. One day a week is business day. On business day (usually a Wednesday) I can prepare new flights, register students for camps, etc..............

In summary, we do at least 4 flights each day. If classes are really large we open the Galileo for the A.M. program. In addition to the classes we teach 2 lessons on stars and perform 2 Starlab Planetarium shows daily.
If you were to ask any of the day staff they would tell you that repetition is our biggest challenge. It takes a lot of focus and customer care to gear up daily for 50-60 kids but we do it. 

The daytime program is the heart of the Center. It IS the reason for our existence. My thanks to all that make it possible. My appreciation for the mental effort required to be up beat and positive on a daily basis. 

Magellan Security working through a report (2007)

Last Friday we had 45 campers -All from Barratt Elementary School. 

Chris became very ill during the overnighter. We think it may have been the pizza. He requested Green Shirt help for the morning. I gave him Stephen. We got through the mission. 

The Falcon's new network switch is working as expected - flawlessly. No network problems since that fateful overnighter a few weeks ago. 

We are going to try specialization. I'm not sure it will work but I'm willing to try anything. Each of you need to do what is best for you.  Some may really love one of the ships, if so then by all means specialize. Volunteering isn't fun if you never get to work the simulator you love. 

On the other hand, I realize some of you want to continue to work all the ships. If so just let me know and I'll keep you in a rotation. Each of you do what's is best for you. Do what you enjoy. Happy volunteers make happy customers and happy flight directors. If you have any questions or concerns please send them on to me by email.

And now, those famous words.

That is all..................

The Odyssey Crew ready for Battle (2007)

Experimenting with Scoring Field Trip Crews. Comments from a Teacher. 

February 14, 2002

Hello Troops,
I'm experimenting with a group scoring system for Voyager field trips and private missions. I've done the system with three groups now. It appears to be successful. This is an email I received today from a teacher from Farrer Middle School in Provo. We hosted a group of 7th and 8th graders yesterday for the Supernova story. 

As always, it is good to get feedback from our customers. When I do I'll be sure to pass it along to all. 

And now the email:

Dear Victor, 
For what it's worth, your new approach of monitoring and giving points for the performance of each individual is a tremendous addition to the program.
One of our girls had worked hard (something that involved creating an entire sheet of information) and felt like she contributed nothing. I had her ask you about it and you told her she had earned 15 points for the team. I wish you could have heard the pride in her voice when she explained it to me.  I'm sure it is at time exhausting to run the Center, but I want to express my appreciation for the unusual and valuable opportunity it provides.

Our Odyssey team has been asking if there were scores maintained for their voyage. Is there any feedback I can give them?  The kids are still excited and talking with friends about their experience. Their performance was reported during school announcements on the PA system this morning. Again, thanks a bunch. we had a great time! The students were so excited about doing well.

Elna Jensen

The Odyssey Engineer in the Engineering Crawlspace at the Back of the Ship.

Metta Smith Joins the Field Trip Program. Bryson Lystrup is a Great Kid - a Story of a Frightened Boy and a Kind Chaperone on the Overnight Camp.  Here Come Staff and Volunteer Specialization.

February 25, 2002

We are happy to have Metta Smith, one of our Voyagers, working with us every other day. Metta is on work release from American Fork High School. Metta's work allows Jennifer to take time to learn the Odyssey. This will give Chris a back up flight director for afternoon school flights.

It was President's Day on Monday. The week really seemed to go by fast.

Again, as I say repeatedly. I'm amazed at what is being accomplished here at the Center.  We are not only teachers and storytellers but artists in every aspect of the word. All of your successes in the simulators and classroom reflect on everyone else associated with the Center and on me. Thank you all for helping me realize my dream.

Last Friday we had 39 campers from Barratt and Highland Elementary School. The Highland kids were from Mrs. Thompson's 5th grade ALL class. Enjoyable kids. My hat is off to Bryson Lystrup. We all know Bryson's skill at vote fishing and his ability to win "Lord of the Votes" no matter where he is put on an overnight mission. Well, I've come to realize Bryson is not kind and caring to our customers just for their votes but because he does care about the quality of our product and cares for our campers. He proved that on this last overnighter. 

We had one boy that attended two weeks ago. He came back for this overnight mission. He loves the place. He is a good kid but has trouble with sleeping anywhere but home. On his last overnight mission his mom told me that she would just come and pick him up at 11:00 P.M. She didn't come this time and I could tell he was going to have 
trouble. He had a sleeping bag and pillow so I know they wanted him to at least try to stay over. He came up to me right after ice cream and asked if he could use the phone. He said that his stomach hurt. He came back shortly afterwards, sat on his sleeping bag and let out 2 sobs and them sucked it up and tried to save himself from embarrassment. I assigned him to sleep near his friends hoping that would calm his fears. 
Just before I left the simulator I made one last round. I could tell he was troubled. I assured him we would all be here. I went down and shut off a few controls and came back to the bridge to check on him again. That is where I found Bryson. He was checking on all the boys himself. I heard the boy begging Bryson to stay with him on one of the
lower empty bunks.
Bryson told him he couldn't because his responsibility was to monitor the basement. 

I went back to the briefing room and had a piece of Matthew Stapleton's birthday cake. 30 minutes later I did one last check on the boy and found his bunk empty. OK where was he?! " He went downstairs to be near Bryson," one of the other boys said. Good Luck to Bryson I thought. I was going to go downstairs to check on things but thought 
Bryson would come and get me if needed. I went to bed.

Saturday came and the boy survived. I patted him on the back and congratulated him on staying. He said he didn't have a choice. His dad told him he had to. Sounds like a dad doesn't it? The kid had to toughen up and dad was going to help him do it by not coming to save him from a learning experience. Later Bryson told all of us what really happened.The boy came down and slept in the bunk opposite Bryson's. Bryson said to calm him he told him several stories - some even made up on the spur of the moment. Was all of that worth the Boy's $1.25 in votes? No, not if you are looking at the money only. What it does show is true caring, compassion, and dedication. Thank you Bryson for making another boy's experience a great one at the Space Center.

The Odyssey's CD player finally bit the dust on Friday. It consumed a few CD's and then gave up the ghost. It served the Odyssey for at least 5 years. A new Pioneer 25 disc changer has taken its place. Kyle had to search high and low for that one. 

Here come specialization! Soon the March volunteering schedule will be posted. March will be our first month of specialization. This staffing experiment will answer a few questions:
1. Will volunteers learn and pass off ships quicker?
2. Will specialization lead to happier volunteers?
3. Will specialization lead to happier flight and set directors?
4. Will specialization lead to better missions? 
I'm not sure but that is why you experiment. We will give it our best. As we do please do not hesitate to send me your feedback. Always tell me what you are thinking. 

And now, those famous words.

That is all..................

The Odyssey's MidDeck (2007)

Tyson Baker Responds to the Comments on Bryson and the Importance of Treating the Campers Kindly.

Hi all,

I haven't posted in a long time. But I would like to post on Bryson and what he did.I know I live far away, and I probably have spent the least amount of time at the Space Center as any of the workers; but when I have been there, as a camper, and even sometimes working, people like Bryson, that are kind, in spite of faults, and are always there with words of encouragement; it means a great deal to people like me, that feel like a person in a strange land.

Whenever I was down there, there was always someone who treated me like a life-long friend, and always gave me help when I needed it. I even think Bryson was one of those people who treated me like a friend.  So, make compliments to the campers and the workers, say hello... 

Believe me, it counts.Thank you to everybody that has treated me like a person while I worked at the Space Center. You've all taught me more about life than you'll ever know.
Thanks for listening. Sorry if this message didn't make very much sense.
See ya!

Tyson B.

The Imaginarium

It takes a lot of practice and work to achieve great things