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Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Weekly Update from the Director

February 24, 2008

Hello All,
I want to thank our staff and volunteers for another successful week at the Space Center. March is upon us. I want to remind our volunteers and staff that the March Call for Volunteers is posted. Please look over the working schedule and send your requests by email. I’d like to get the working schedule out to everyone by week’s end. March is looking to be a busy month so we will need All Hands on Deck!
I’m trying to put two supervisors on every Voyager and Magellan mission. Our Central School volunteers are filling many positions left open during the week. It seems our older volunteers are having a difficult time getting here on weekdays. I’m guessing the cause is two fold: busy schedules and the ever rising cost of gasoline. Our local Central School volunteers all live within walking distance of the Space Center. They enjoy working but are young and need supervision. Two supervisors on the larger simulators will help provide them with the supervision and training they require to become better volunteers.
You’ll notice an increase in the number of schools coming for after school field trips. March, April and May are full of school’s arriving at 2:00 P.M. and leaving at 6:00 P.M. They are sending two classes each day.
This means an addition ‘full’ field trip of classes, Starlabs, and missions.
Our daytime staff will need your full support. It isn’t easy teaching four of everything each day. The repetition can be mind numbing. I’m confident we will do exceptionally well because we have high standards and an awesome staff who always do their best to give our visitors the best field trip in Utah. Hats off to Sheila, Aleta, Lorraine, Metta, Megan, Stacy, Bracken, Jordan, Jon P., Brooklyn, Christine, Marc, Kim, and all the Central School 5th and 6th grade volunteers.
I’m reminded of something I heard from a young lady last week. A sixth grade class was finishing their training on the Voyager Bridge. The Right Wing Flight Officer was looking around the Bridge impatiently. She had mastered the look of a bored teenager - not bad for a 12 year old. She raised her hand.
“Is this all we’re going to do is sit here?” she asked. “I’m getting bored.”
“Yes, all you’re going to do is sit here so I’ll guess your going to be bored.” I answered. I wanted to say much more. You can’t imagine the will power required not to say more. The words were at the tip of my tongue already formed, fueled, and waiting for launch. A couple consonants and a vowel hissed out between my clenched teeth but quickly retracted and swallowed.
Her face collapsed into a production of distortions carefully rehearsed to convey extreme frustration at not being entertained. I could tell she needed something. My guess was her ipod - the pacifier of a new generation. This new generation goes from the rubber nipple in the mouth to headphones into the ears. I see ‘the young’ everywhere with wires running from their belts to their ears. Their brains seem to need constant noise and entertainment. The sounds of human voices and nature are no longer satisfying.
Some teens have such a distant look on their faces it makes me wonder what they are listening to. I can only guess; “Breath in and Breath out. Walk. Stop. Breath in and Breath out. Walk. Stop. Breath in and breath out. Walk Stop. Chew gum. Breath in and Breath out. Walk Stop. Chew Gum.”
I turned from the young lady and continued to work with the other children that had real questions. In the back of my head I wondered what her opinion would be of the mission.
I started the mission. Her face was square in the center of one of my TV monitor. I watched her reactions as the mission progressed. Tex’s speech did nothing for her. Her head rested on her hand. Her elbow was firmly planted on the desk. Her eyes were fixed upon the black ceiling. I wondered if she was praying for deliverance.
Soon I was lost in the mission and lost interest in tracking her reactions. At the end of the mission I remembered to look at her again.
“That was awesome!” I heard her telling her friend from across the room.
“Did you see...........? I saved the ship by............ My heart was beating so fast.........” She went on and on as she left the bridge. I sat back in my chair and began shutting off equipment. You know you’ve done a good job when you can change a teenagers opinion from “This is stupid” to “This was awesome!”
So..... several days late and in the quiet of my own home I stand and take a bow to the four walls of my living room. I’ve conquered a teacher’s Mount Everest.
Another week starts. Hundreds of kids are getting ready for the ultimate field trip. If you are one of those kids I want you to know that we are ready for you. We’ve been here 17 years training and preparing for you - just you.
My thanks to the students and teachers that visit us weekly. My thanks to a great staff and volunteers that make the Space Center the magical place it is.

Mr. Williamson
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