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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The First Voyager Club Meeting!

The first Voyager Club (Alpha Group) meeting was held on Tuesday Oct. 28th. The first meeting was a success. Students planned future club meetings, club leadership, classes, possible simulations, and heard about exciting new technologies coming to the Space Center. All the students left excited for their next meeting on November 20th at 4:30 P.M.

In order to accommodate students schedules we are now offering two opportunities to attend. The Voyager Club's Beta Group will have their first meeting on Thursday November 6th at 7:00 PM and end at 8:30 PM.

The Alpha Club will always meet at 4:30 P.M. for those that have afternoons free. The Beta Club will always meet in the evenings at 7:00 P.M. for those with evenings free. The date of each club meeting will be announced at least 2 weeks in advance.

The Voyager Club is open to students who love attending Space Center camps – classes and want to earn higher Space Center Rank. Club meetings, activities and educational programs will focus on space science, aviation, communication, team building, leadership and science fiction. Other details about the Voyager Club listed below:

  1. There is no charge for attending
  2. Class hours are awarded at the end of each meeting for attendance. Extra class hours are awarded at the end of each term to members that have no grades lower than a C.
  3. The Club meets twice each month. Meeting dates and times are announced two weeks in advance on this blog and through the Frequent Flyer email list.
  4. You are allowed to attend ONCE a month. Lesson topics and objectives will change each month.
  5. Lesson topics and objectives may or may not be announced ahead of time.
  6. You must wear your Space Center T-Shirt to attend. If you don't have a shirt you may purchase one at the Center for $10.00.
  7. You must register for each meeting ahead of time. This is done only by email. If your name is not on the register you may be asked to leave. The lesson is taught in the Space Center's Discovery Room, which can only handle occupancy of 30 max. That is why you must pre-register to attend.
  8. The instructors are Center employees. There may be occasional special speakers.
  9. These meetings are not merit badge classes.
  10. Simulators may be used in class sessions, but not promised and not on a regular basis.
Your best behavior is expected. Students will be asked to leave and not return if their behavior becomes a distraction to the instructor and / or other students around them.
Once again, we are looking for students with an interest in learning and increasing your rank at the Space Center.

If you'd like to attend the Beta Club meeting in November please send an email to the Space Center through the web site's "Contact Us" section. An email 'Ticket' will be emailed back to you.

We look forward to having you in attendance!

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Term is Ending

We are nearing the end of the first term of school. Report cards will be issued. Some will be weeping and wailing when you see the results of your efforts. Others will be satisfied having met your goals. There are some I worry about that don't really care.

A note to our student staff and volunteers: I need to see your grades. Working at the Space Education Center, in any capacity, requires grades no lower than a C. Please bring those report cards the next time you come to work.

My challenge to staff, volunteers, and campers is to set goals to get the grades you need to achieve your goals. Nothing is impossible if you're willing to pay the price. Your future is being written now with every decision you make to achieve, just get by, or give up. Make good choices. ACHIEVE GREAT THINGS. IT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER.

A Salute to the Center's One Day Weekenders!

When I left the Space Center on Saturday evening I said, "Enjoy your Only!" to Emily and Stacy. They wondered what I meant. I explained that most of us that work at the Center get one day off a week. We call our weekends our 'Onlys". I want to use this post to give Three Cheers and a hip hip hooray to all of us that toil six days a week! We work Monday to Saturday in our simulators, classrooms, junior and senior high schools or universities.

What does Friday mean to many in the workforce? It means the weekend is coming like a brilliant sunrise after a long dark workweek. What does Friday mean to us at the Center? It means the long dark night! Friday is our longest work day because it spills far into Saturday.

I'm writing this post to share my weekend schedule with our newer staff and volunteers. This will help you understand why I'm a bit focused and tired during camps. I want to impress one thing on your mind. Don't be afraid of hard work. I have always worked hard. Did you think the Space Center just appeared out of thin air? If you want something in life you need to set goals and then WORK for it. If your lucky enough to get a full weekend then Great! If you are like me and get an Only instead, then consider the fact that you're in good company with most of us that work at the Space Center.

My Friday begins at 7:00 A.M. when I leave my home for Wal Mart. There you'll find me, along with the other members of the Early Risers Club, wandering around the store pushing our metal supports with wheels. We pass each other at least twice in our elongated laps. As we pass we nod as a greeting and an acknowledgment - the unspoken club sign given to recognize the fact that at that hour of the day you always get to the checkout and forget something you were to buy.

I fill my cart with the overnight camp necessities. I feel I can do it in my sleep. I fall asleep as I approach the bakery and awaken at the check stand with a cart full of supplies. Its kind of like driving down the road and listening to the radio. When you arrive at your destination you realize you don't remember passing anything along the way. You just got there. It is like your brain drives the car in autopilot while your conscious self is carried away in a stupor.

At 7:40 A.M. I'm unpacking the groceries at the school. This is the worst part of Friday! I hate unpacking groceries. At 8:00 A.M. I’m starting up the simulators and inflating the Starlab. At 8:15 A.M. I can sit down for a few minutes and answer phone calls and emails. At 8:45 A.M. I'm heading outside wearing my bright orange hunting vest. I walk to my designated cross guarding station ready and waiting to hurl myself into the path of any oncoming car that fails to yield to our crossing students. I'm the first school employee they see so I wear my "friendliest guy in the world" face and greet them each as they cross. Staff and volunteers, I know you're wondering why you don't get to see that overly friendly face when you come to work the overnighters - right? Well, by the time you arrive that face's `sell by date' has expired and you get to see the real foundation beneath it. Frightening isn't it?

At 9:00 A.M. I leave the fresh air and advance into the Discovery Room where my Pre-Algebra class is waiting with books out and eager faces telling me they are expecting another awesome `Victor Williamson Math Extravaganza!" My heart skips a beat when I realize I had forgotten to even look at the lesson for the day but they will never know. I'm a professional teacher. If I can't waffle out a great lesson once in awhile at a glance then I'm not worth my paycheck.

At 9:45 A.M. Mrs. Houston takes over for me so I can start the field trip. At 9:50 A.M. I’m standing on the Bridge of the Voyager greeting the Field Trip crew as they ascend the stairs carrying their boarding passes. I greet each one with what is left of my "friendliest guy in the world" face. I'm well into the Voyager's first mission of the day.

At 11:30 A.M. my first mission ends and the NASCAR race begins. I slip on my racing jacket covered with advertising stickers and race around the bridge doing lap after lab getting the ship ready for the next crew. Its 11:45 A.M. and the afternoon crew is ascending the spiral staircase onto the bridge. I'm standing there collecting their boarding passes wearing my "I haven't had a chance to recharge since 7:00 A.M." face. The entire flight process starts again.
At 1:40 P.M. the field trip pulls away in their bus. We shut the ship down.
I have until 4:00 to:
  1. Do the weekly deposit.
  2. Answer phone calls.
  3. Answer nearly 20 emails - all needing a response.
  4. Create the work schedule for the next week - daily staff and student staff.
  5. Update the YahooGroup databases.
  6. Give everyone that comes in to talk to me the time they need. That can take hours of my time each week but that’s OK. I'm in the people business. In this business I need to be available to people when they want want to say hello or have a question or need advice. Staff and volunteers are always welcome to come bend my ear. My other work can always be done another time.
  7. Write a letter of recommendation or two.
  8. Buy needed supplies on the internet.
  9. Update the Center's books and accounts.
  10. Set up the trash cans and tables in the cafeteria and gym.
  11. Answer the mail and do the registrations that come in.
This work load can go up or down depending on what Mrs. Clegg was able to do during her office time. Aleta is my office assistant. Her help has freed me up to do many other things I’d never be able to do otherwise.

At 4:00 P.M. I’m greeting the private mission groups as they arrive. At 4:15 P.M. I can go home to get ready for the overnight camp. It is 5:30 P.M. and I'm back at the school getting the overnight camp ready to go. At 6:15 P.M. the staff meeting begins. From that point on I'm:
  1. Signing in the campers.
  2. Giving my "Welcome to Camp" speech. Then it's dividing the campers into their teams.
  3. I work with the staff setting up cots and blowing up air beds in the gym.
  4. I put the Starlab Planetarium away and make my outside walk checking the school doors
  5. I'm back to my desk doing office work until 11:00 P.M.
  6. At 10:50 P.M. I'm setting out the ice cream and trying to stay awake.
  7. From 11:00 P.M. I'm getting the campers ready for bed and then down for the night.
It is 12:30 A.M. I finally get to lay down on my pad on the Briefing Room floor. The campers are in bed and I'm hoping I'll have some kind of a night's sleep. I've been pretty much running around nonstop since 7:00 A.M. That's seventeen hours straight - and the night is still young. During the night I can expect to be woken up by campers needing to use the bathroom. Some campers will want to call home because of head aches or home sickness. Sometimes I’m woken up by campers that have thrown up or had other accidents. It happens and is all part of the business.

It is 6:15 A.M. Saturday morning. I've had five hours of sleep (if I'm lucky). I get to my computer and type up the camper's hour certificates. At 6:45 A.M. I wake up the staff and the morning starts rolling. At 8:45 A.M. the campers finish breakfast and follow their Flight Directors back to their ships. I start work on the cafeteria. I clean the tables and floor. I take out the trash, put the tables up. Back to work at my desk. At 10:00 A.M. the camp ends. I begin tallying up the camp surveys. At 10:30 A.M. the staff meeting begins. We go over the tallied scores from the camper surveys and award the ‘Lord of the Votes’ and ‘Director's Trophy’. At 11:00 A.M. I go into the gym to supervise the staff dodgeball games. At 11:30 A.M. private missions arrive. I’m back at my desk

It is 2:00 P.M. and the 11:30 A.M. missions are leaving. My office work is finished. I close one set of bathrooms and head in with my towels and spray. I clean the bathrooms on the weekends that the custodian cannot. It is important the school has clean bathrooms for Monday morning. The rest of the afternoon I usually work on maintenance or meet with the Programming Guild.

At 5:00 P.M. I'm saying goodbye to our last missions of the day and checking the doors . It is 5:45 P.M. and I'm driving home for good. My one day weekend is starting!

This schedule I described is typical and I'm not the only one. Many of our good staff are putting in time like this. I want to salute all of you that give so much of yourselves to this job and the kids. I'm amazed at your dedication and willingness to sacrifice. I wish I could shower you with money and gifts but my gratitude will have to do. It isn't much but it is from the heart.

My Fellow One Day Weekenders - I Salute You!


Monday, October 20, 2008

October's Voyager Club Meeting

Hello Troops,
The Space Education Center's first Voyager Club meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 28 from 4:30 to 6:00 P.M. at the Space Education Center.
The Voyager Club is open to those students between the ages of 10 and 14 who come to the Space Center on a fairly regular basis and are looking for a way to increase their class hours for a Space Center rank. These students must have a sincere desire to learn more about space, aviation, science and science fiction. Other details about the Voyager Club are listed below:
  • There is no charge for attending
  • The club meets twice each month. Each meeting is held on a different day of the week to accommodate student's busy schedules. Meeting dates and times are announced two weeks in advance on the blog and through the Frequent Flyer email list.
  • You are allowed to attend ONCE a month. The two monthly meetings cover the same topic. The lesson topic will change each month.
  • Lesson topics may or may not be announced ahead of time.
  • You must wear your Space Center T shirt to attend. If you don't have a shirt you may purchase one at the Center for $10.00.
  • You must register for each meeting ahead of time. This is done only by email. If your name is not on the register you may be asked to leave. The lesson is taught in the Center's Discovery Room. It can hold 30 people max. That is why you must pre-register to attend.
  • The instructors are Center employees. There may be an occasional special speaker.
  • At the end of each meeting participants are issued a certificate for 1.5 class hours. The certificates are added to your rank when you attend your next Overnight Camp or Super Saturday. Extra class hours are awarded at the end of every grading term for report cards that have no grades lower than a C.
  • These meetings are not Boy Scout merit badge classes. We do not know if the subjects we cover will help satisfy merit badge requirements.
  • Parents are allowed to wait in the school lobby. There are a limited number of seats in the room and they must be reserved for our students. We expect more students wanting to attend then we have room for.
Your best behavior is expected. Students will be asked to leave and not return if their behavior becomes a distraction to the instructor and / or other students around them. Once again, we are looking for serious students with an interest in learning and increasing their rank at the Center.
If you'd like to attend please send an email to the Space Education Center through the web site's "Contact Us" section. An email 'Ticket' will be emailed back to you.

Thank you,
Mr. Williamson

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Odyssey and Phoenix Panels

Hello Troops,
Matt Long has been busy creating new activity stations in the Phoenix and Odyssey.
The new Odyssey station takes the place of the old First Officer's station that had the light control switches. It is a three panel station with plenty for the camper to do.


The new Phoenix station fits nicely into the wall behind the Captain's chair. It was installed on October 13th. It is a combination of switches and isolinear rods.
The general feeling from the staff - "Very Cool".
Matt has done a great job. Matt has agreed to install new stations similar to the Odyssey and Phoenix in the Magellan. He will be installing a few more panels in the Phoenix's engineering crawl space.

All our way of trying to improve your Space Education Center experience.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Our First School Year Camp and Lice.........?

Hello Troops,
We finished our first school year overnight camp Saturday morning at 10:00 A.M. It was a pleasant change from the summer program. This change has been eagerly anticipated by the staff and volunteers. You could see and feel the difference throughout the camp. The mood was more positive. I saw more smiles and felt a real optimism. This type of change is good for the staff because it marks the passage of time and keeps us refreshed and attentive.

The Space Center has two seasons and each season has its unique characteristics
School Year Season:
This season starts with the second overnight camp of October. This is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated season. The weather turns cooler and the evenings get darker. With darker evenings, our mission’s landing parties take place in darker school hallways. This is a good thing. When the kids come out of the ship into the darkened halls of the school to meet some mission objective in a deserted starship or starbase or alien world, they can’t look outside and see a 21st century Earth neighborhood.
The Fall Season brings an end to the public camps and a start of the school camps. Public camps are fantastic but by October we are ready for camps with kids that have never been to the Center before, or perhaps just once for a school field trip. They come with overflowing enthusiasm. These new campers haven’t done our longer missions. This gives our Flight Directors greater latitude in deciding which missions to tell. They can tell their favorite mission without worrying if someone has done it before.
Now, there are downsides to every season and these downsides slowly build on the staff until they are ready for another change. When the School Year Season reaches this point at the end of May the Summer Season is ready to emerge and energize us.

Summer Season
The Summer Season starts with the first overnight camp in June and lasts until the first weekend of October. By June the staff grows weary of the non experienced crews and eagerly await the return of the veterans. Our veterans are our higher ranking campers and students that have been to the Center many times. They don’t need as much attention as our new campers. They know the ropes and adapt quickly into the missions. They give the staff real challenges because they know the simulators so well. Many of these veterans are well known to the staff. It is good to see them back again to catch up on old times. These summer campers appreciate the Center. If they are really good, a Flight Director can increase the difficulty level of the mission. This makes it fun for a Flight Director, especially after finishing eight months of the school year season and telling our basic stories.

My Thoughts on the First School Year Camp
This camp was hosted by Lindon Elementary’s Fifth Grade. Of the 44 campers only six or seven had been to the Center before. Because they all came from the same school and hadn’t done our missions, it was easy to place them into the simulators. I was expecting several headaches and upset stomachs because of their age but was surprised with only one request for the Happy Bucket (the bucket children are encourage to request when they feel the urge to vomit). The request came at 3:30 A.M. when Jon woke me to tell me that one of our young men was sick and thought he might throw up. I reminded Jon where the Happy Bucket was stored. It was given to the youngster. I directed to boy to the drinking fountain and then a chair. I sent Jon back to bed. The camper sat for a few minutes. My experience told me that most late night sicknesses are actually forms of homesickness or fright. I asked him if he would like to leave the crew quarters and sleep up on the bridge closer to the chaperones. He liked the idea. I moved him up to the Left Wing section of the Bridge. I sat the Bucket next to him and went back to bed in the Briefing Room. Fifteen minutes later, at 4:00 A.M., I heard a rustling on the stairs. I knew it was him. He walked over to me with the Happy Bucket saying he still wasn’t feeling well. I asked him if he would like to move into the Briefing Room. I showed him that I slept right in front of my desk and the staff were camped out around the corner in the Odyssey. He liked the idea of getting out of the Voyager. I moved him right in front of the Odyssey doorway. I laid back down. A few minutes later I heard him call out from across the room. “Im feeling better,” he said. I was right - it was a combination of home sickness and fright. He was fine for the rest of the night.
That kind of thing is expected during the school year - especially with campers who have never slept away from home before. Going away to camp and toughing it out without the familiar and comforting surroundings of home is a big first step in growing up and learning independence.

Not me, but how I feel many times in the morning. My orange vest is much nicer. I can live without the hat.

I’ve Got Lice
You didn’t expect to read that did you? Before you jump to conclusions, let me alleviated your fear that Mr. Williamson has lice. I don’t. Here is the short story that goes with that title.
Every school day at 8:45 A.M. I go outside and monitor one of the school’s crosswalks. My job is to make sure the students get across the street safely and to keep an eye on them until the bell rings. I’ve been doing this for nearly eight years. In that eight years I’ve seen and heard many things from our students. This week I was blessed with another gem.
A young third grade girl approached me from the north on her scooter.
“Remember to walk your scooter,” I reminded her when she was close enough to hear. She promptly jumped off the scooter and walked up to me. She stopped and looked up at me.
“I’ve got lice,” she said as a matter of fact. What was I going to say to that statement? My usual “That’s nice” almost left my lips. That response is good in most situations but not that one!
“Are you seeing the school nurse?” I asked. There was no one else in ear shot.
“Yes, I’m using a special shampoo. I got the lice from ............. because ............. and.....................,” her story went on. I got a blow by blow account of the lice’s spreading from that girl to her and how that girl still had ‘the lice’ and she was ‘getting them clean’.
Then, just as abruptly as the conversation had started, it ended. She was away flipping her long hair. I had one of those ‘Office’ moments. In the TV show “The Office” the characters glance at the camera every time something embarrassing is said or done. Well, I gave one of those “Office” looks to the telephone pole after the girl walked away. Then I chuckled for the rest of my morning duty. Kids say the craziest things.

Well, it is time to wrap this up. We have a short week. Our UEA vacation starts Thursday.

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Milestones Reached.

Hello Troops,
I begin by apologising for my absence from the Blogosphere. It was not of my doing. I blame my working conditions. I may have a case to take to the Department of Labor.
Each and every day teachers, like myself, toil in the muck of bacteria and viruses. We are surrounded by droplets of infected spittle every time we enter a classroom or bend down to answer a question. For example, little Johnny raised his hand. I, being a diligent educator, rushed to his side.
"Mr. Williamson, I don't understand why this should be a negative number. I know what I'm suppose to do when we subtract with a negative and I tried that with this problem but I think this problem is one of the exceptions to the rule - you know how that works in English. There are exceptions to every rule and I think I found one in math and if I did then I think I should get some kind of extra credit or something."
Of course it is said with one breath as one long run on sentence.
"Johnny, Math and English are different," I answer and then continue with reasons. "It should be a negative number for multiple reasons. Give me a second to think of a way to show you so you can understand."
This is a teacher's way of saying "You're really struggling to get those hamsters to spin that upstairs wheel so how can I translate what I'm saying into one syllable words and pictures so you grasp some meaning".
While I searched my vocabulary for words used by today's youth, Johnny mounted a full scale attack on my immune system. He sneezed. Johnny, like so many other children, finds loud siren sneezes funny. Of course we all know that you can't achieve that kind of sound by covering your mouth and Johnny did not cover his mouth.
I sounded the retreat but it was too late. I felt moisture on my face. A biblical plague was upon my house!

To make a long story short - I've been sick with a very bad cold for the last week. I think I hit bottom yesterday. I like it when I hit bottom and start to feel shades of normal again. I'm considering investing in one of the Department of Homeland Security's Hazmat suits to wear to school. Ah, the good life of living in a bubble.

Let's get to the news.
We are setting new flight records! Here are the numbers:

Voyager: Last year's all time flight record: 490 missions. Today the Voyager hit 490 missions for the current year and we have one month to go before our Space Center year ends.

Galileo: Last year's flight numbers: 188 missions. Today the Galileo hit 235 missions for the current year and we have one month to go before our Space Center year ends.

Magellan: Last year's all time flight record: 212 missions. Today the Magellan hit 207 missions for the current year and we have one month to go before our Space Center year ends.

Phoenix: Last year's all time flight numbers: 400 missions. Today the Phoenix hit 401 missions for the current year and we have one month to go before our Space Center year ends.

Odyssey: Last year's all time record flight numbers: 624 missions. Today the Odyssey hit 588 missions for the current year. We will easily exceed that record before the Space Center's year ends on November 8th.

Well Troops, we are busy. The numbers speak for themselves. A special thanks to our staff for the extra effort and a very special thanks to our guests for spending their time and their money with us. Your support keeps us open.

Mr. Williamson