By Sheila Powell. Space Center Educator.
The Space Center really has two personalities: 1) The ship flight directors/support crews and the educational staff. While the flight directors and their staffs are busily engaged torturing children in the simulators, there is another group of hard-working folks busily working to keep the "second field trip" group engaged with activities in the Star Lab and Discovery classroom. The educational staff members include Lorraine Sheila, Aleta & Megan. Out-of-site and out-of-mind during the morning field trips simulations, these ladies handle wound-up, excited (occasionally rude and unruly-yikes!) classes of field trip classes in the Star Lab, Classroom, lunchroom and preparing the students for their flights. They have a tight schedule to follow…just as in the simulators…"Have those kids ready for transport at 11:45 am sharp!" But prior to this, they must gather the school lunches off the busses and get them into the lunchrooms, brief the students on CMSEC/Central Elem behavior expectations, take the kids on potty breaks, move the kids through the school to the Star Lab and the Discovery Classroom, make sure they have a quick lunch, and get them properly lined up and introduced to the transportation procedures all before 11:45 am Sharp!!! A daily juggling act of time vs. student/class needs!!! Sheila, the newcomer, has been leading the morning classes, while Lorraine assists on the Voyager. Then, Lorraine, takes the morning simulation group into the Star Lab and Classroom. Aleta was the designer of the amazing classroom experience! Aleta and Megan love occasionally taking a break from flight directing the Odyssey and Phoenix to cover the classes as well….which gives Lorraine and Sheila a break.
These "classroom warriors" loosely call themselves the "Redcoats", because there are days (unbeknownst to one another), when they all wear red jackets or sweaters all on the same day. Their jobs in the Star lab (a student called it the "Star Igloo" the other day..hahahhhaha), classroom and moving the kids through the school is tough…just like in the simulators. As the Flight directors struggle with incohesive groups during a mission…the education members struggle as well. Here's the difference, though, between the simulation groups and the classroom groups: The flight directors can torture the non-cooperative groups with tough alien negotiations and help from "Tex"…the classroom directors must deal upfront with rude comments, noise and disruptions in the Star lab and classroom settings. Handling the classroom experiences can be tough, but SO rewarding at the same time. There are days when the groups are talkative and refuse to listen and behave…Whew, those are tough classes! On those days, the Star lab is shut down early &/or the classroom experience is "simplified" just to get through the time. Too bad, because the class is missing out on some fine inspired learning! On the other days--when the classes and teachers are well=behaved, engaged and prepared--the morning and afternoon field trip classes are so much fun to teach! The kids are excited and willing to learn! they ask lots of great questions and appreciate what the education staff are presenting to them. Those days are memorable and fun to teach for the educational staff!!!!
Needless to say, then while the flight directors and crews are directing student field trip groups in the morning…so are the "Red-coats" directing students through "the other aspect"…the educational side…through CMSEC at the same time. We are all working together to provide a one-of-a-kind, unique experience for kids….and loving every minute of the experience. No matter what kind of classes come our way!! Both "sides" of CMSEC staff handle the daily challenges the individual school/classes present to us! Separate, maybe at times, but all of us are working together as an amazing group that thrills, inspired and amazes children daily!!!!