Visit to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit and for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dame Aleta Clegg: Holder of the Federation Star, Thrice Decorated for Bravery in Combat on Distant Worlds, Hero of the Battle of Tau Ceti IV, Mistress of the Summer Camp Kitchen during the CMSEC's Voyager Era, Author, Former CMSEC Planetarium Director, and Outfitter to the Odd and Unusual Visits the Voyager. The Thorium Directorate Gathers. The Voyagers Build a Saturn V. Imaginarium Theater

Aleta Clegg, Alex DeBirk, Bracken Funk.
If you've lost your inner child I suggest you find it on the Starship Voyager at Renaissance Space Academy, or find a corner in a darkened room, curl up and die.

     Someone walked into my classroom at Renaissance Academy yesterday morning while the Thorium Directorate met with the Master of the Code, Alex Anderson, on issues pertaining to the refit of several of Utah's starship simulators with Thorium simulator bridge software, developed by Alex Anderson and team.  My back was to the door. I heard a plastic bag rustling, glanced over, and saw to my surprise the great lady herself,  Dame Aleta Clegg: holder of the Federation Star, thrice decorated for bravery in combat on distant worlds, Hero of the Battle of Tau Ceti IV, Mistress of the Summer Camp Kitchen during the CMSEC's Voyager Era, Author, mother to many, wife to James, former CMSEC planetarium director, and outfitter to the odd and unusual.  
     "Aleta!" was the cry from many in the Directorate.  
     "I've come bearing gifts," she replied. Out of the bag came a tunic of many colors, a bedecked crown fitting a Paklid prince, Romulanish evening wear, and a magical cape with the power to force a double take.  The cape resembles curtains found only in Victorian sitting rooms of the mid 1800's - tassels and all. 
     Aleta's surprise visit was arranged by Bracken Funk.  Apparently he contacted Aleta asking for costumes for upcoming Voyager missions.  Aleta was kind enough to agree to the task.  Having to deliver her son to BYU Idaho in Rexburg gave her the excuse to drive a bit further south to visit family and friends.  It was good to sit down and visit and catch up on all the news from Washington state.  

The Master of the Code Caped and crowned for the Double Take.
     Alex Anderson couldn't let Alex Debirk and Bracken have all the fun.  During a temporary lull in the Thorium conversation Alex found himself drawn to the royal ensemble.  He commented over and over again how good he looked in clothing made for someone of his stature, befitting a true Master of the Code.  We had to agree if we wanted Thorium to run on our starships. 

Alex, Alex, and Matt Ricks were amazed at how the cape and crown transformed Alex Anderson's thought process.
What was once a difficult concept to explain to the code challenged suddenly was easily described and understood.
I've always said that the clothing makes the man.

The Thorium Directorate Gathered at Renaissance Space Academy for Inspiration, Direction, and a Vision Adjustment when Necessary.

     Saturday morning at Renaissance Space Academy on Utah County's Silicon Slopes saw the gathering of Space Center directors or their surrogates.  The purpose was to discuss Thorium, the bridge simulator software created by Alex Anderson and associates. Alex calls these high level meetings on a regular basis to touch base with the center's using Thorium.  They're good to deliver news, get feedback and direction, discuss issues and bugs, and inspire the troops.  
     Present were:  James Porter from the CMSC.  Nathan King from the Lions Gate Center at Lakeview Academy, Parriss King representing Telos Academy, Matt Ricks representing himself, Isaac Ostler, Alex DeBirk, and Bracken Funk representing Renaissance, and I attend as the Space Center Founder. I sit their and pontificate as necessary. 
     The future of Thorium was discussed.  Upgrades and wish lists were addressed along with those few bugs that pop up from time to time.  Alex was good to keep the gathering focused and on agenda.
     I can't leave this article without praising the Andersons for Thorium.  Thorium is open sourced for anyone to use.  It is a gift to all from Alex and Crystal Anderson.  It is their way of giving back to the Space Centering community.  Their way of paying it forward.  Thank you.

Mr. Williamson

The Voyager Club's Lego Saturn V

Kyan, Quinn, Connor, and Brahm pose with their Lego creation

     Take a look at this beautiful Saturn V rocket assembled over the last two weeks by members of Renaissance Space Academy's Voyager Club.  The Lego kit was donated to the club by Mr. and Mrs. Moss.  Mrs. Moss is my classroom's paraprofessional. She and I work hard with our drums, rattles, and potions, to rid our 95 sixth graders of their math demons and bring them into the light of sums, products, quotients, differences, and variables.  
     These Voyager's came in after school and at lunch to build this behemoth. It came complete with the proper innards for a trip to the moon circa 1969.  The Saturn V is durable, having been dropped once or twice during its construction and easily put back together again.  Today the rocket sits on display at the back of my classroom on top of the book cabinet.  It is THE conversation piece for visitors, well that and the life sized Dr. Who Dalek  and Marvin the Martian on guard along the north wall.    

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Programming Department Returns to the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. This is Your Chance to Learn from the Best. Anyone Can Join (Except Me: I've Been Labeled Hopeless). Posts and Pictures from the Archives: October 2002. The Imaginarium.

OK Mr. Williamson, this is a cursor.  Let's start with that
Alex Anderson demonstrating extreme patience, necessary to be a programming department Master of the Code. 
Hello Troops,
     That's right, the Christa McAuliffe Space Center is bringing back the Programming Department, a special department to train a new generation of upcoming starship software programmers. The Department's Master of the Code is Alex Anderson, long time Space Center programmer, flight director, and all around good guy.  It is the same Alex who created Thorium, the latest sensation in starship controls. 

Mat Long, the last Master of the Code, teaching the Space Center's last programming department in 2015.

     Normally the Space Center's departments are closed to the general public.  Participants must first register as volunteers.  The Programming Department will be different as explained in Mr. James Porter's announcement below. 
Programming DepartmentIt's back! I'm excited to announce that with the development of Thorium software for our simulators and the talents of Alex Anderson we have a steady platform for teaching very useful programming skills.  The first meeting will be September 22nd at 8:30 and then will begin meeting every other week after that.  The schedule for all department meetings can be found on the Volunteer Calendar. Because Thorium is an OpenSource project that is used by more than just us this department will be unique.  It will be the first of our departments that is open to non-volunteers.  So if you have friends who are interested and talented they can read and fill out this form to participate.

The new programming department is cool, but is it cool enough to bring back the baby blues?
Isaac Ostler, a programming department alumni, showing how distinguished one looks in baby blues.

Alex Anderson Speaks as Master of the Code.  An Open Invitation to Those Seeking the Truth.

I'm pleased to announce the Programming Department, a department the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. This will be an extension of the Developer Workshop that was held last month and will be open to anyone interested in learning programming and working on Thorium.

We'll be meeting twice monthly at Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove to learn web technologies and build Thorium features. The first meeting will be September 22nd at 8:30am. 

This department will be available to anyone interested in developing for Thorium, programming experience or space center affiliation (or lack thereof). Anyone who wants to get together and work on great simulator controls is welcome to come!

Check out this form for more information and to sign up to attend: 

Can’t wait to see you there!


Crew recovering  from a dousing of Slime Devil venom in the Voyager's Sick Bay
Summer Camps 2007

From the Archives.  Posts from the Space Center's First Group, SpaceEdVentures.

October 7, 2002 
James Porter Discusses the Importance of Volunteering and Not Abusing your  Rank Plus Gives Us An Update on the Pathfinder Simulator in Logan.

Greetings from the Northern realm of Utah. All is well in Logan even though we lost to BYU by one point, just one. I wish to tell you a story of a great man I know whom we shall call Dave "the brick" Wall.

Many years ago Dave ventured from the well establish climate of Pleasant Grove's space education center to start up his own privately owned business. A few years after his move the maiden voyage of the Pathfinder simulator took place in Salt Lake. Many hours of work went into the development of the Pathfinder along with large amounts of money. It looked as though he was off to a good start until the project was moved up to the harsh winters of Logan, Utah. After waiting months without power, due to the bureaucracy of the school district, power was again flowing through the systems of the ship, without help from the school district.

A volunteer playing one of those dread Orion Pirates.  In the Voyager's Brig under the watchful eye of a
well trained and frightened Security Officer

The first missions of the Pathfinder were run this last summer with great success. The Pathfinder was running but not all was well. That summer came at a great cost. Because the Pathfinder is a privately owned business, it has many expenses such as electricity and mostly staff wages it has to deal with. The Pathfinder does not have the benefit of a massive, well-structured volunteer force like the CMSEC.  The Pathfinder's employees have not experienced the great benefits of volunteering, they only know that if they work, they get paid. Because of these expenses, the one known as Dave is losing money on his venture.

You might be wondering what this has to do with anything besides knowing what the situation of the Pathfinder is and the shameless promotion for it. I hope to make a point about volunteering. As always you must start with a definition, VOLUNTEER: To
perform or offer to perform a service of one's own free will - To do charitable or helpful work without pay.

The space center is made great because of the volunteers. If the volunteers weren't there the CMSEC would probably have run into the same problems as the Pathfinder, which potentially could end the program. I know that advancement is pushed rather intensely at the Space Center, but try to be there because you want to help the patrons have fun. Trust me, if you work hard to help them to have fun, you will have more fun.

suggest you take the initiative and find out what mission is being run. If there are pirates (almost guaranteed) get your own camouflage outfit put together. Don't rely on the supplies of the space center, they deplete more and more each year. As a volunteer you need to make it your goal to make the space center the best it can be. When you put more
into the space center you get more back. Many volunteers developed skills because they wanted to better the space center that they are now finding apply to more areas in their life. 

This wouldn't have come about if all they thought about was moving up in rank. Now this brings me to a problem I have been meaning to address since before I retired. Rank. I am
guessing that it is just as bad now as it was when I left. Here are some suggestions to help with this increasing problem. First of all, don't ever abuse your rank. Here are some ways to tell if rank is being abused. If someone of a higher rank "commands" someone below them to pick up a piece of trash when they can just as easily do it, that is a problem. Example, someone of a higher ranks is sitting around eating ice-cream and snaps at lower ranked volunteer to pick it up trash because he is too lazy to pick it up himself.  "What's on your back" was a joke! Now it has turned into a way of saying, "Hey I am higher than you so that means I am right in what I do and say." 

Let's say a level 2 ranger is signing in kids and asks politely if a level 4 ranger, who isn't busy, would go and see how many kids have arrived. If the level 4 in turn says, "hey, what's on your back . . . that's right," then that is a problem. They should be carrying their own share of the workI have been disgusted at how some of you high ranking staff and volunteers have acted towards those below you.  Instead of pronouncing your rank you should be saying, "oh, I'll take over for you so you can go and check real quick." 

I hope you guys will be the example to the volunteers. I don't want to ever hear some of the backbiting I used to hear again. We should never hear a high-ranking staff member say something like, "He needs to learn his place," or "I don't want him to step foot in my simulator."

It is time for me to dismount from my high horse. Please take what I have said into consideration. I look forward to seeing you all again hopefully working towards a better space center.

-James Porter

The busy bridge of the USS Voyager. The Mother Ship. 

October 8, 2002
Tyson Baker Sends an Update from Logan and Remembers His Early Days as a Voyager Camper in the 1990s.

Hey Mr. Williamson,

Wow, I haven't talked to you for a long time. How are you? I'm  doing just grand. I still haven't lost my love of the Space Center,  I've just lost the opportunity. But I am planning to come down there and volunteer soon. Oh, and just FYI, if you're down in my area any 
time soon, my school is putting on "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". But anyway, I'm a senior now. I'm the 'rule of the school' I guess you could say. I'm getting 
really interested in Cinematography, and that's what I want to study in college. I really miss the Space Center though.  All the adventures I had, all the dreams that came true, and all the magic that was lived there. 

The Voyager is still my favorite simulator. I really would like to volunteer this month a couple of times. That, and my mom says I should go down there anyway, because working at the Space Center counts as volunteer hours that I need to make-up for some lost attendance credit.  I bet when I do come down, I won't recognize the place. It sounds like all the Flight Directors have been busy upgrading their ships. 

remember the first time I ever went down there. I was in 6th grade and on a Astro Camp 5 day camp. There were the old 'black-and-white' macs in the Voyager, and you were running the old 'Supernova' mission, with Dr. Jenkins. Oh that was so much fun! If I could reverse time that is exactly when I would go. Anyway, this message is getting pretty long so I better stop. But before I do, could you give me the e-mail addresses of everybody who is 

involved with the 'PathFinder' project. I might look into volunteering for them. Is it Dave Wall and James Porter? I don't know. Enjoy every second of life. I hope to reunite with you and the Space Center soon.

See ya later!
Tyson Baker

Receiving instruction from the Voyager Captain.

October 8, 2002
Mr. Williamson Discusses the Problems With His New Mission Called Stazi (Midnight Rescue).  Do the Kids Get It?
Also, a Great Overnight Camp with Lindon Elementary's Gifted Class.

Hello Troops,
Just a quick Journal entry for last week. We serviced Sharon, West Jordan and Draper Elementary Schools. Some good groups but they all seemed to have trouble with the Stazi mission. I think the problem originates with the concept of what an Embassy is and its purpose. The central theme of Stazi is an Embassy rescue. I wrote the story after seeing news footage of the evacuation of Americans and the other staff from our Embassy in South Vietnam as the Vietcong entered the city of Saigon. Classes with an understanding of basic diplomatic protocol and a foundation in basic world war two history do very well. Of course, expecting this from the normal sixth grader would be asking too much. I must rely on our pre visit briefings to accomplish this. Once again I must trust the classroom teacher to do his/her job to prepare the class for their field trip.

I want to thank Kyle Herring for stepping up to the plate and running the Magellan for the last overnight camp. Another thank you to the awesome staff that assisted him. You folks know who you are - you did a super job. The Magellan reviews were just wonderful at the end of the camp. Kyle wanted me to thank you over and over again - so I've just done that.

I enjoyed the last overnight camp. The campers came from the 5th gifted class at Lindon Elementary. Those sharp fifth graders loved every minute of the EdVenture! It was fun to see their eyes as they entered the simulators for the first time. Most of the camp had never been here. Their look of amazement and wonder made the week for me. It reminds me of why I work here. 

We are into another week. No overnighter this weekend. Everyone enjoy the UEA break.

That is All.......

Mr. Williamson

Remember all those landing parties in the school's gym? 

October 10, 2002
The Voyager was Host to the Star Trek Radio / WebCam Show.

Hello Troops,
The Star Trek Radio Talk Show will be broadcast from the Space Center tonight. You can get information on the show from the egroup calendar. Click on the event and the information will pop up. 

The web site for the show is:

or just:

I think the show starts at 7:00 P.M. They will have a live web cam and a call in number. There is also a chat room so you can post questions. 

If you are really interested you may come down and watch the show live. Stay for a few minutes or an hour or so. Your parents are welcome as well.

Arrive between 6:15 and 6:30. No later! Please have your ride here to pick you up at 9:00 P.M. or before. You should wear your Space Center t-shirt. 

Thank you Troops,
Mr. Williamson

The Imaginarium

When you open up your exam and you hear the Asian kid next to you swear under his breath.....

Recreation of the First Class Grand Staircase: Titanic

We all have friends like characters in Lord of the Rings....