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

Sunday, February 5, 2023

I Stand Amazed at What InfiniD Has Done. Imaginarium Theater


     I have nothing but praise to bestow on InfiniD Learning today.  In fact, this post will be a written testament to the genius of Skyler Carr, Casey Voeks, and everyone involved in the imagineering of their missions.  The reason for my praise is something that happened last Friday.  Let me tell an abbreviated version of the story. 

     Due to an error on my part, I left two of our Young Astronaut squadrons short their third mission / class rotation.  I occasionally make scheduling mistakes when mapping out dates and times to get all our 23 Young Astronaut and Voyager Club squadrons fitted out with their 8 meetings for the school year.  And because of one of those errors, I needed to have one team do a flight session and another team do a class session on the same day.  That's a no-no, due to the fact that I can't be in two different places at the same time. My solution was something we'd never tried before.  

     I scheduled the two squadrons for last Friday.  The 5th grade flight team and the 4th grade class / flight team met in my room at 12:45 P.M. I got the 5th grade team ready to start their mission and turned them over to Bracken.  The 4th graders had their meeting extended to 3 hours instead of two.  Their first two hours would be spent with me in the classroom while the 5th grade team flew their mission.  They'd enter the Voyager for their 1 hour mission when the 5th graders went home. I needed to come up with an extra hour of curriculum.  My solution was to have them do an InfiniD mission for the first hour before teaching them my prepared hour long astronomy lesson reserved for their 4th round.  

     I've never seen or supervised an InfiniD mission.  I've seen bits and pieces here and there but never sat in on a whole flight.  My sixth grade teaching partner does InfiniD as part of our science curriculum.  Friday was my first InfiniD rodeo.  I brought in the light cart, pulled up my preassigned mission, had the kids log in, pulled the window blinds, shut off the classroom lights and started the mission.  What I saw amazed me.  

     My 4th Grade Tiger Squadron was into the flight from the start.  I thought they'd be a hard sell considering they fly in the Voyager on a regular basis, but I was dead wrong.  They were 100% immersed in the mission to Mars.  I didn't have a thing to do but watch and be amazed at the amount of learning taking place. 

     What impressed me the most was the cooperation and communication the mission brought out in the cadets.  There were some heavy debates on action items and a few mission failures along the way.  In fact, that InfiniD mission had my cadets just as involved in this mission as they would be on the bridge of the Voyager.  In fact, they were so immersed and involved I'm beginning to consider implementing aspects of an InfiniD mission into the way we run missions in our brick and mortar ship.  It was amazing! 

     I'm gong to implement InfiniD missions into our Young Astronaut  and Voyager clubs for the cadet's 6th classroom round coming up in a month.  The program will from now one be an integral part of our club.  I just need to coordinate with our cadet's classroom teachers so we're not doing duplicate missions.

     InfiniD team, you've taken my dream of a classroom simulator from the early 1980's and made it real. You've found a way to take the mission magic worldwide.  My hat is off to what you've accomplished and I'm proud to be the voice of your computer.  



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

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Cyber Legionnaires (Computer Programming Class) Resumes Regular Classes at The Space Place. The Voyager Club's Cup Stacking Challenge. InfiniD Makes an Impression at Conference. Jon Parker's 18th Anniversary. Imaginarium Theater

Drew helping a Cyber Legionnaire with a question

     What makes foreign governments question their future security? What keeps the Kremlin's spymasters up at night? Why is China spending billions on new network firewalls? These governments, all guilty of meddling in American's cyber security, fear a small group of young, up and coming future programmers.They fear The Space Place at Renaissance Academy's Cyber Legionnaires.  
     Nestled snugly just to the west of Utah's Silicon Slopes sits Renaissance Academy. Renaissance is a public charter school that specializes in foreign languages and experiential education using the USS Voyager, the school's starship simulator.  The Space Place offered the coding class for two years before Covid shut us down in 2019.  Now we are back with the first class held last Saturday for students in grades 5 - 7.  
     These 28 Cyber Legionnaires meet in my classroom most Saturday mornings from 8:30 - 9:30 A.M.  I supervise the Legionaries but the heavy lifting code coaching comes from my two gurus (the Google name for Google CS teaching assistants), Ammon and Drew.  Together the three of us put the students through their paces as outlined in the Google CSFirst curriculum.  Our young programming novices are learning SCRATCH. They're quick learners.

Ammon helping a young Legionnaire

     The students are enthusiastic to learn as proven by their willingness to return to school at 8:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning for a 60 minute class.  As the name of our group illustrates, our students know that the future depends on a computer literate population. Computer literacy should begin at an early age with age appropriate material.  Google has generously supplied the curriculum. It is now up to schools to make these lessons available to students nationwide.

This year's first class of Cyber Legionnaires at The Space Place

From this class of Cyber Legionnaires will come tomorrow's programmers tasked with America's safety along with the development of applications, processes, and equipment to improve our quality of life. Our ultimate goal is to provide America's companies with an ample pool of qualified employees ready to tackle the programming needs of the future. The time to prepare for that future is now.  

Mr. Williamson  

The Voyager Club at Renaissance Academy's The Space Place: Using Space Exploration and Science Fiction to Teach Teamwork, Communication, and Problem Solving Skills   

Three 6th Grade Voyager Cadets Working to Set a New Record in Cup Stacking

     We sure have fun while learning at The Space Place, Renaissance Academy's space center.  The school has 225 Young Astronauts (grades 3-5) and the Voyagers (grades 6-9) enrolled in the after school program. The cadets meet once per month to learn about space exploration, bond as a team with team building activities, and explore the vastness of space in our very own Starships, the Voyager and Nighthawk.    

     The cadets are involved in a cup stacking competition this month.

The 6th Grade Cobra Squadron Trying to Set a New Time Record

InfiniD Makes an Impression at the Future of Education Technology Conference in New Orleans

We were invited to showcase our technology (Infini-D Learning) in a pitch competition at the Future of Education Technology Conference (#FETC) in New Orleans.
Guess what.
We won!

Skyler Carr posted the photo and caption above on his Facebook page. I don't know much about the FETC, but based on its name, there would be no better fit than InfinD and the experiential learning practiced everyday in our Utah County space centers.
Congratuations to Skyler Carr, Brooks Heder, and the InfiniD family!

Space Center Legend Jon Parker Celebrates his 18th Anniversary at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center

A Younger Jon Parker (With a Reasonable Haircut) at the Controls

That's right space fans, our good friend and confidant, Jon Parker celebrated his 18th anniversary on Saturday. It was 18 years ago Jon arrived on our doorstep; a young new volunteer assigned, by mistake, to work an overnight camp. Not having a clue what to do, he somehow survived the ordeal and 18 years later is the CMSC's Assistant Director and good friend to all. Congratulations Jon!

Imaginarium Theater

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

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Retired Space Center Legend Natalie Anderson Pens a Post on Her Life as an Author and Her Books. This Week's Imaginarium Theater

Hello Troops,

I've known Natalie for many many years. She was the third in a line of Andersons who walked the Space Center's halls and found meaningful and profound ways to shape the program for the better.

Natalie recently retired from active starfleet service to focus on her next best love, writing books; and she has written more than one as you'll read in her post below.  I tried writing a book once and got as far as a few pages and gave up. I created too many characters to keep track of, there were too many plot holes I didn't have the patience to fill, and far too many words needed to be written - so my hat is off to Natalie.

Aleta Clegg (Micah Clegg's mother) is another retired Space Center legend and author.  She uses the name Jaleta Clegg for her writing. A quick search of her name on Amazon will bring up her books.  I mention this to illustrate the fact that the Space Center is the nesting ground for many great storytellers.  

Aleta with one of her Summer Camp Kitchen Creations

And now, without further ado, may I invite you to enjoy Natalie's post on her life as an author writing exclusively for The Troubadour in traditional style. 

Mr. Williamson 

Hello Friends,

Like the myriad of NASA launches that have been delayed for one reason or another, this post too has been put off. Perhaps it is because I feel strange writing about my own work. Or I fell into a pit of procrastination. But if I’m telling the truth, I forgot where I put my pass to get on the train back to the Imaginarium. A travesty, I know.

The train in question. The conductor is very particular about train passes. Not sure why they don’t use tickets. At least then I could lose them without consequences after the ride. I used to keep extra passes on my person at all times, in case I lost one or I needed to bring a guest or something like that. Unfortunately, my extra passes were lost the last time my reactivation clause beacon was activated. I won’t go into the details, but if anyone finds a bit of blue luggage floating around the peak of Olympus Mons, please let me know.

A picture of the lost luggage just days before the tragic accident. If found, please give it some cookies and send it back to me. The cookies are to help it recover from the shock. Definitely not for me.

In any case, I have since found my pass, thank goodness. Otherwise, I’d have to hitchhike all the way to the secret post box on Wondrium Avenue to get this mailed to the Imaginarium Chief of News and other Fiddly Things.

It has a habit of moving between alleyways making it quite difficult to find. It’s only red when it wants to be red, and that’s usually only when it knows for certain that you’re looking directly at it. If your eyes skip past it, you’ll never find it. Be confident and stare at every brick and eventually it’ll work for you.

What? You think we just email him? Psh. Never.

Now onto the actual news: I wrote a book! Actually, I’ve written several, but when my first books came out, I was still looking for my train pass. I suppose I’ll tell you about them too! My first series is called Constantine Capers and is a historical mystery about a detective with short term memory loss. Every day he wakes up and can’t remember the day before. I wrote much of the first one, The Pennington Perplexity while I was on sabbatical in England, France, Rome, and apparently, Mars.

This is the cover for the first book. My publisher’s cover designer did such a good job!

The second one, Flashes of Memory, I wrote once I was called back into service of Starfleet. And the third one (There Comes a Midnight Hour) I’ve been working on since I’ve entered my real retirement. This book is not done yet but give it a week or two. (Will there be a fourth? Probably. Don’t ask me about the fifth.)

And here’s book two. It’s my mom’s favorite. I think my favorite is the one I’m writing. But that’s only until the writer’s block kicks in.

The first two were finalists for the Whitney Awards, (if you know what that award is, we can be friends. If not, we still can be friends).

My second series makes a lot more sense when you consider that I was practically raised at the Space Center. The series is called The Thirteenth Zodiac and the first book is called Keepers of the Zodiac. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy series that could be described in this way: Take Avatar the Last Airbender, smush it into Star Wars, and then sprinkle in some Indiana Jones for good measure.

Here’s the cover for that book. Ain’t it pretty? Since I self-published this book, I actually designed this one and I’m really proud of it.

Another description could be: “What would happen if falling stars gave you magic powers?” But perhaps the best description is the one I wrote for the back cover:

Within the white marbled halls of the Zodiac Palace, the Great Dragon waits. At the dark chaotic maw of the abyss, the Divine Augury watches.

And on the top of the cascade in nowhere Nevada, the next Keeper of the Zodiac wishes. Serena Morelli had plans. Good ones. Finish the semester, become an astronaut, and watch another meteor shower.

In no particular order.

Now she has a fallen star in her pocket, lightning at her fingertips, and a man named Pharos Everleigh on her doorstep. 

Thrown headlong into an interstellar realm of mystery, magic, and tyranny, can Serena find her place in the Universe before she needs to save it?

Or for you more visual people, here’s a short trailer for it:

Pretty good, huh? I like it in any case. So, last month I decided to publish it. And what better place to showcase a science fiction novel launch than in the Planetarium at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center? James Porter was very kind in letting me rent the planetarium for the evening and we had a pretty good turnout. Talked about the book, showed a teaser for it on the big dome, and then finished it off with a good, old-fashioned planetarium show. My mother was instrumental for distributing hot chocolate outside afterwards whilst the snow made it impossible to see the brightest meteor shower of the year.

A pretty good turnout indeed! Pictures courtesy of my mother.

Something about the dome distorts photography. I promise that’s me.

I’d never done a book launch in person before, and it was an absolute blast! Honestly, even with some things not going entirely according to plan, I couldn’t have planned it better. I’m hoping to do five books for this series, so maybe if I keep a hold of my train pass, I’ll announce the next launch before it even happens!

I’m really excited to be officially announcing my books to the loyal Troubadour readers! If you want more information on my books and what I’m up to, I have a website at In fact, if you scroll down on the first page, you can access some short stories you can read for free! (The Ferengi would be so mad at me).

At the end of the day, I doubt I’d be writing books if it wasn’t for my time at the Space Center. That intoxicating feeling that comes from storytelling using the discipline of wonder is not something that quickly leaves the system. And I’d not have it any other way!

Anywho, I’d best finish this up so I can catch that train and get to the post box. I just hope it hasn’t moved. Again.


Natalie (Brianne) Anderson

Emeritus Set Director of the Odyssey

Flight Director Extraordinaire

Voice Actress in the Order of the Silver Microphone

And Apparently an Author. Who Knew?

Imaginarium Theater

The Week's Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience