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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Space Center News Update

By Mr. Williamson

The Space Center will return to business as usual on Monday. I enjoyed my Spring Break. I slept in most days to 6:30 A.M. which is unusual. I’m developing some pretty strange habits when I haven’t got one thousand things to accomplish in a day. Having a Friday evening off was something to be worshipped. At 7:00 P.M. on Friday I looked at the clock. I knew exactly where I would normally be at the start of an overnight camp. I would be sitting at the Sign In Table asking 45 students if their names were spelled correctly.
“Yes,” would be the normal response.
“Are you staying here tonight or going home?” would be my next question. Some campers don’t understand that question. I get that ‘are you stupid’ look. They are thinking that if this is an overnight camp why would you be asking that question? I don’t want to take the time to explain that some children go home to sleep.
“Are you staying here tonight or going home?” I ask again.
“Staying here,” is the normal response once they’ve put away the ‘I don’t understand’ look.
I find their names and check them off the list. “Take this set of rules and read them. When you finish return the paper to the desk. Keep your rank paper, You’ll be asked for it later. You can have a seat over there,” I say pointing to the stage steps. The campers rush to the steps to unite with their friends.
At 9:00 P.M. on Friday I looked at the clock once more. Normally my security walk would be finished by that time. I enjoy my walk around the school. The evening air is fresh and its quiet. The school is, for the most part, locked up tight. Occasionally I’ll find one of the trailer doors unlocked.
Most of the simulators would be well into their missions by 9:00 P.M. I take a minute at 9:00 P.M. and check the Magellan and Voyager to see if they have started. I want all simulators in flight by 9:00 P.M. and the Magellan and Voyager always push that rule. Sometimes their missions briefings go too long. Sometimes the kids took too long to train. Last Friday I was in bed at 10:30 P.M. During a camp I’d be still at my desk working at 10:30 P.M. At 11:00 P.M. I meet with the kids again and give them their snack.
At 11:30 P.M. I’m assigning the boys a place to sleep either in the Voyager or on the cots in the gym. I’m explaining the overnight rules. I’m showing them the fire exits. I reminding them where I sleep (on a pad on the floor in front of my desk in the Briefing Room) in case they need to find me during the night. I explain again where their two chaperons can be found in case of trouble. I request their help - explaining that if they let us sleep we will do a better job running the simulators for them in the morning. I’m turning down the lights at 11:40 P.M. Most of the time the boys will be good and go to bed.
At midnight I tell the staff to go to bed. The female staff go to their sleeping zone (or go home). The male staff usually sleep in the Odyssey or in the Magellan (or go home). I monitor the hallways for 20 minutes or so as the staff ready for bed. By 12:30 A.M. the halls of the school are empty. I go to my desk and collapse on my pad. I sleep lightly so I can respond to trouble. Some boys will bypass the chaperons and come to me if they’re sick, or have thrown up, or are homesick. Some wake me wondering where the school’s bathrooms are.
I’m up at 6:00 A.M. to clean up. Sometimes I need to make a quick trip to WalMart to pick up the donuts for breakfast. I get the staff up at 6:40 A.M. We have our Saturday Morning Staff Meeting at 7;00 A.M. and at 7:15 A.M. we wake the kids up.
You see how much I enjoyed my Friday night off!? It was awesome going to bed at 10:30 A.M. and sleeping in on Saturday morning.

We’ve Gone Digital!

I want to thank Sheila Powell, a teacher at the Space Center, for taking the Magellan, Voyager, and Odyssey’s training tapes home over the vacation to digitize them and burn them to CD. I’m moving our simulators from cassette tape training to CD or Mp3.
The Phoenix is currently training by Mp3 player. On Monday we open with most of the Voyager’s stations on Mp3 training. The Mp3 players are tricking to turn on. They don’t rewind so if the student misses something he must stop the player, raise his hand, and have us help.
It was revolutionary when we went from hand training to tape training fifteen years ago.
This next step will be more time saving then revolutionary. No more rewinding the tapes.
No more having tape players eat the tapes. No more using your finger to wind a tape that the machine nicely unwound for you. No more dealing with the cheap tape players.
Campers, look forward to digital training for your next visit to the Space Center.

Maintenance Update

Megan Warner gave up a large part of her Spring Break to work on the Phoenix. She came in and took apart the Phoenix’s bridge to deep clean and paint. Megan sets the example for all Set Directors on the proper way to care for a simulator.
Spenser R. has been hired as the Space Center’s Asst. Director of Maintenance. He will work with Kyle Herring’s direction. Spenser spent several hours tearing out the bunks in the Captain’s Quarters. The Voyager’s ceiling sprung a leak during the winter. Each time the snow melted the water would leak into the Captain’s Quarters. The ceiling and one wall was damaged. The roof was repaired a month ago.
Spenser found mold on the sheet rock when he checked the way last week - a result from getting soaked by the leaking roof. I ordered the wall and a part of the ceiling torn out and rebuilt. I don’t want a camper to have an asthma attack because of mold growing on the opposite side of a sleeping wall. Giving our campers and students a safe and clean environment is one of the Space Education Center’s primary goals.

Programming Update

Alex A, the Space Education Center's boy genius, was in during the Spring Break to work on the new Phoenix ship controls. He is getting close to the finish line. He promises the controls will be ready for beta testing in May and full deployment for the first summer camps. Thanks Alex for going the extra mile.

Let’s Get to Work

OK troops, the vacation is over. We have thousands of students and campers ready and waiting to come to the Center for their field trips, birthday parties, and camps. Let’s get back to work rested and excited to give them the best experience possible.
We are the only place in the world that does what we do. That can, at times, be a hindrance. Without competition there is no external source to motivate us to do a better job. To improve we must motivate ourselves. We must maintain and strengthen what we do right and change and adapt to fix what doesn’t work.
Self motivation requires more mental fuel than motivation from an outside source. Staff, remember coming to the Center when you were younger. Do you remember the excitement? Now, recreate that for the students coming to you.

Thanks to all,
Mr. Williamson
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