|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.|