The Best Videos From Around the World, Edited for a Gentler Audience.
|Conner Larson briefing the Magellan's test flight with the new departments. The |
crew was composed of Space Center staff and volunteers.
One of the Space Center's founding principles is Innovation. The willingness to experiment, to try new ideas, to stick one's neck out and do something no simulator has done before is my definition of innovation. The day the simulators in the Space EdVenture fleet of ships (Voyager, Magellan, Cassini, Phoenix, Galileo, Falcon, Odyssey, Hyperion, Apollo, Artemis, Leo, Titan, Valiant, Everest, and Pathfinder) sit back on their laurels and just do things that way because that's the way it has always been done is the first day to a long slide into oblivion. Sure, many things we try end up failing and many don't work as well as we'd hoped. That's OK. You learn something in every defeat. Imagine where we'd be today if I stopped innovating shortly after I opened the Space Center in 1990? If you guessed that there wouldn't be a Space Center today you're right.
|The Magellan Commander ready to get going and hoping Connor would wrap things up|
I challenge the space centers in the network to continue to experiment. I encourage you to try new approaches to a mission, try new equipment, write new and different storylines, etc.
There's a reason for those last two soap box paragraphs - I want to highlight the Magellan's very own Connor Larsen. Connor is the Magellan's Set Director at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. Connor returned to Utah for the summer. Mr. Porter contacted him upon his arrival to inform him that his Starfleet Reactivation Clause was enforced. He was to report to duty asap.
Connor walked onto the Magellan's bridge, looked around, and waited for inspiration. What were the whispers faintly heard in the moving air-conditioned air? He opened his mind and experienced that moment of innovation when the light bulb flashes and the germ of an idea springs into consciousness. Connor had the crazy idea of not giving his crews actual bridge stations in the traditional sense. Instead, he would create departments and assign his crewmembers to a department instead of a single job. Each member of the department would be expected to learn every computer station composing that department. They would learn to be a team, to cover for each other, to train each other, to look after each other.
|One of the departments. The departments are generally one bank of computers.|
Connor took a few minutes to explain the concept to me at the start of the summer camp season. I thought it brilliant. He would give it a go with the Magellan's first test mission of their new summer story. FYI, the departments are Command, Engineering, Logistics, Strategic Operations.
|The back bridge makes up another department|
Of course, there will be the doubters and the traditionalists who will dig in their heels and resist the changes. That is to be expected and not feared. There is a place for "I don't like this, it isn't the way we've always done it. The old way worked. Why change it?" My experience is that they are right about 50% of the time. You need a few people like that. They help you fine-tune the idea to the point of keeping it and making it the new standard of operations, or discarding it and returning to the old tried and true. However, always remember - if you want to be a valued member of staff, you need to keep an open mind when it comes to innovation. Give it your best shot. See if it works. If it does - your job is to embrace it.
Will Conner's idea actually work in the real world of day-to-day simulations? Time will tell. Of course "The Troubadour" will keep you updated on developments. It is what we do...
The Cassini Gets a New Mascot
Audrey Henriksen is one of those multi-talented individuals who finds a way to add a bit of class and culture to the Space Center. Here is one example...... Meet Cassini's new manta ray mascot conceptualized and sewn by Audrey - a true original.
Now, a problem.... Jon Parker is the Cassini's Set Director. Jon is gifted in the flight director's chair but draws blanks when it comes to names. Jon needs your help. What should Audrey's new creation be named? Jon is excited to hear your opinion (if you have one). Please send them to Jon for consideration. If your name is chosen, you'll be invited to sit next to Jon in Cassini's Control Room for 5 whole minutes! Jon is willing to take it one step further. Jon will let you talk to him for 2 of those 5 minutes. I'll even let you sit in my camp-style rocker. If that doesn't get your creative juices flowing, nothing will. Send your name suggestions today.
American Heritage School's Space Center is Moving Ahead Toward a Fall Opening
|Alex showing me how his Dilithium Chamber works|
Alex DeBirk and students work night and day to get the new space center at American Heritage up and running by Fall. The new Center will have two simulators: the old Galileo from the Christa McAuliffe Space Center, and a new ship currently under construction in the school's new high school which is also under construction. Adjoining the two simulators will be a Make-It-Lab. The Make-It-Lab is a large room, Alex's classroom to be exact. The room will be equipped with thousands of dollars worth of equipment to be used by his high school engineering and physics students. Large 3D printers will be used to create props and set pieces for the simulators.
|Nolan showing off his container|
|Katy wasn't having any of that "I'm better than the rest of you," attitude Nolan smirk suggested. She showed him her container from the shelf. Nolan smiled for the photo but grumbled a bit as he walked out of the control room.|
|The staff for Nolan's first test mission on the Odyssey.|
Space Center Honors Night. June 3, 2021
The Christa McAuliffe Space Center held its first Honors Night in the new building on June 3, 2021. The event was held in the planetarium. All will agree that never has there been an Honor's Night in the Space Center's 30-year history held in a more luxurious setting; we're talking a 5-star venue. One would have expected spotlights in the parking lot and a red carpet illuminated by hundreds of flashes as the staff and volunteers arrived to learn who would receive what honor. The tension in the air was noticeable as those assembled settled in their seats as the lights dimmed and Mr. James Porter approached the stand.
And as customary in events such as this, Mr. Porter stuck to a long-standing Space Center tradition and dealt with housekeeping issues before the Honors. Of course, everyone who has ever volunteered or staffed the Space Center knows that "A Clean Ship is a Happy Ship" so why the constant reminders? Because everyone suffers from selective memory loss when it comes to cleaning. Playing an Orion Pirate or a deranged Paklid is fun, but cleaning up after the mission...... not so much. All in attendance took a solemn oath to keep the new Space Center and Central School clean, green, and serene.
Other housekeeping items included proper dress and grooming paired with the sensitive topic of showering and the application of deodorant before coming to the Center. Sometimes the best way to say something delicate is to just do it and get it over with. It's like ripping an old bandaid off a newly formed scab. Younglings, you stink if you don't shower, with soap I should add. Do it before you come to the Center to work or volunteer. The Control Rooms, while bigger than the old ones, are still small. Everyone is close, breathing each other's air and smelling what you had for lunch. Be "That Volunteer" flight director's use as the example of how to look and smell.
"See, this is Max. Notice how clean Max looks, and smell that soap and deodorant. Be like Max."
With housekeeping out of the way, Mr. Porter's opening remarks took a different direction. "Who is responsible for what and who do you go to for answers" was the title of the next theme. Take a moment to look at the photo above to refresh your memory. James put himself at the bottom - a clever way of saying not to bother him until everyone above has been approached.
"Mean and Grumpy?" YES - and rightfully so when the air conditioning isn't working in the simulator control rooms and planetarium server room. I don't remember a summer camp season over the last 30 years that didn't have air conditioning problems. It is the nature of the beast.
Tabitha Ricks was next to take the stage. She introduced the congregation to the Center's new volunteers. Very few knew who they were, but the introduction garnered polite applause.
In that list of names could be a future flight or set director. Perhaps even Mr. Porter's replacement as Center Director several years from now. Everyone, even Mr. Porter, started as a new volunteer and had to maneuver their way to the positions they occupy now through hard work, showering, and using deodorant.
Speaking of people who've worked hard and worked their way up the ladder...... Mr. Porter then introduced us to those who've been accepted into the staff training school. Each person on that list has demonstrated a willingness to learn what it takes to become Space Center great along with outstanding personal grooming and cleanliness.
New staff was introduced at Honor's Night. The room grew strangely quiet as the list appeared on the dome. Who was this Mr. Williamson? Who was this "Victor"? Could they be one and the same? It's the circle of life is it not? The guy who founded the Center, directed it for 23 years, and then retired? Is he back?
Well...... you bet I'm back and very proud indeed to wear a lanyard with an Alpine School District employee badge housed in one of those computerized door opening things. You want to see me smile, just stop me and ask how it feels to be wearing that badge and I'll tell you that it is an honor to be working side by side with some of the finest young people in Utah all gathered in one place to bring the Space Center's unique happiness and learning to Utah's students.
The Space Center's Set Directors each took to the podium to describe their simulators; how each is different in its own way. Brylee went first. She is the Galileo's Set Director.
Jordan Smith is the Phoenix's Set Director.