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

Friday, May 28, 2010

One of Jupiter's Belts is Missing. Please Return.....

May 23, 2010

Just about any amateur astronomer can tell you the basics about Jupiter. It's the fifth planet from the sun. It's got a Great Red Spot on its lower half. And it's encircled by two prominent brown stripes. Well, check your telescope tonight and you'll find that one of those stripes has gone missing — and scientists aren't entirely sure why.

Amateur astronomers raised the alert about the fading stripe last fall. The giant planet ducked behind the sun for a few months over the winter, and when it came back to the morning sky, the dark band in the Southern Hemisphere was gone.

"This is not the first time this has happened," says Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope magazine. He tells NPR's Guy Raz that particular stripe goes missing every 10 years or so. In fact, it's disappeared about 18 times since the turn of the 19th century.

"We have some confidence that the belt will come back," Beatty says. "We just don't know why."

He suspects that the stripe may not actually be missing at all. Unlike the Earth, he explains, Jupiter doesn't have a solid surface. "What we see when we look through a telescope is a planet-wide cloud deck surrounding the entire place. So these two bands, which are kind of like racing stripes around the midsection of Jupiter, are dark bands that have a different composition than the other clouds around them.

"What scientists think has happened is that some kind of disturbance has taken over in the Southern Hemisphere and created cirrus clouds, maybe, that [have] completely enveloped the planet and covered this band with a high, thin blanket that will eventually go away," he says.

So Jupiter's southern stripe might just be hiding. How long until it reappears, nobody knows. "It could be six months from now," Beatty says. "It could be two years from now."

One thing's for certain, he says: "There are amateur astronomers around the world with their eyes glued to their telescopes in the hope that they will be the first to be able to see the beginning of the return of the south equatorial belt."

Jupiter's disappearing belt wouldn't have been noticed so quickly without those hobbyists, Beatty says. In fact, in astronomy, the pros depend on the amateurs to sound celestial alerts.

"There aren't enough professionals to keep track of everything going on in the universe all the time," Beatty says. "So in a sense, they rely on amateur astronomers — who have very good equipment, by the way — to actually keep an eye on things."

"When they see something, they notify the professionals, and the big guns get swung over to take a look."

If you'd like to join the watch, Jupiter's easy to spot just before dawn. "If you're just eyeballing the sky," Beatty suggests, "it's a bright star in the eastern sky. It's the only star that bright anywhere nearby; it's very obvious."

"If you have a pair of binoculars," he adds, "you'll see that Jupiter's actually a little disk. If you have a small telescope, you'll be able to see not only this disk, but the two stripes across it — or what were the two stripes. You'll only see one."

Beatty admits he kind of misses the second stripe. "I kind of miss the symmetry of it, because it tells me that there is order on Jupiter."

"Right now, the fact that that one belt is missing, it's like a missing tooth. There is disorder on Jupiter — and we just don't know why."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You're Help to Secure the Award?

Dear Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center,
Your business is in the running to be a nominee in this year's Parents'
Picks Awards on Nickelodeon's To secure the nomination, be sure to have your clients/fans nominate you ( The nomination process ends June 17, and the top five venues in each category go on to become our official 2010 nominees. Good luck!

Holly Bishop
Salt Lake City Editor

Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect Local
Fax 801.907.7795

A Webby Award-winning website!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our Last Field Trip for 2009-2010. And Now We Sleep.

Hello Troops,
Monte Vista Elementary's last two sixth grade classes finished our 2009 - 2010 school year field trip program today. The bus arrived at 2:00 P.M. and departed at 6:00 P.M. The students did the mission "Supernova". Lorraine taught the classroom and Aleta and Lorraine did the Digitarium presentation. Yes, you read that right, I wrote Digitarium. The Space Center's brand new $27,000 portable planetarium is here and is it something wonderful! Aleta and Alex A. spent the last several days learning how to operate the computer and projector. It is more complicated than our old Starlabs but what a picture! It's color, and because the projector displays a computer image we can show everything up on the dome a computer screen will display. This will open the door to new and exciting planetarium presentations.

Our New Digitarium Planetarium. Aleta Clegg Director

I took a few snapshots of for the scrap book as our way of officially saying goodbye to a good year. We have a small overnight camp tomorrow night (Thursday). We will be hosting students from Idaho. We have another overnight camp on Friday with students from Ridgeline Elementary School. We have a few down days for summer prep, then reopen on June 4th and 5th with a full slate of private programs. Our first EdVenture Camp starts Monday, June 7th.

This is how you get in and out of the Digitarium. The kids are blurry because Mrs. Houston unzipped the dome (there is no tunnel like the Starlabs). We have to let 5 out at a time so the dome doesn't loose all its air. When she says "Move" they move!

The last student is out and Lorraine is zipping up the dome for reinflation. Mrs. Clegg is still inside working on a few bugs. The Digitarium is complicated and will take some time to learn all its functions.

The students are lined up ready to go outside for a snack before their science lesson in Discovery.

The students get a 15 minute break on the school's east lawn. This picnic area represents the work of two boys for their Eagle Scout Projects.

After their snack, the students go to Discovery for their science lesson. Mrs. Houston was their teacher today.

Mrs. Houston, at her station waiting to provide chills and thrills with a lesson on the light spectrum.

While one class is in the Digitarium and lesson, the other class is in the simulators.

The Odyssey crew is briefed, trained and ready to go.
The Voyager crew is receiving last minute instructions from Emily, their flight director.

Zac is the waiting to go to the Voyager Bridge. He is the Bridge Officer for this mission. He makes his grand entrance when Emily leaves for the Control Room.

It is 6:00 P.M. and time for our last field trip to depart. This is the end for the school year 2009-2010. A great year!

And now I rest after 18,253 students. A new 19 year attendance record. Please do not disturb.........Shhhhhhh

Mr. Williamson

One Simple Rule at the Imaginarium

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another Saturday At the Space Center

Hello Troops,
The Overnight Camp went well. I didn't sleep well. Some weekends are better than others. The campers were from Orem Elementary. Again I can happily report they were awesome. We get some really great kids attending our camps. It makes doing this every weekend worth it.

There's news to report. Shall we start with the really cool and work down to the completely trivial?

This is Warren. Warren has been at the Space Center for years. His older brother Gary worked here before him. Warren is a Supervisor in the Magellan. Warren had good news to share. He received an LDS mission call to Frankfurt Germany. He enters the MTC on September 15th. Of course he's excited (his German isn't too bad either).

This is Emily shaking hands with Wyatt. Isn't Wyatt special? We've been working on his social skills for a few years now. This weekend we can report success! After several false starts, Emily (one of our bright and upcoming therapists) got Wyatt to to extend his hand to shake hers. We were all so proud. I'm not ashamed to admit there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Our Center has a proven success record in working with video game shut ins. Some of our graduates have been spotted out of their homes! Others are starting to talk to people they don't know!

OK, what's this picture really about? We are celebrating Wyatt's promotion to Flight Directorhood. Wyatt spent several months training to Flight Direct and today his hard work and frayed nerves paid off when Emily (Odyssey Set Director) presented his dress blues during out post camp meeting in Discovery. Wyatt is now ready and able to direct your next Odyssey mission. Congratulations Wyatt!

This is Zach. That is Stacy, Set Director for the Galileo. Zach passed the Galileo second chair position during the camp. He is now qualified to proudly wear the Galileo Pin on his lanyard. What does that mean? It means we trust him to run the audio, video and computer systems for the Galileo. Wow, so much responsibility for one so young yet that is the kind of volunteers we have at the Space Center.

This is Brandon. Brandon is dressed as a Magellan Security Officer. Brandon was awarded his One Year Service Pin today. Thanks Brandon for being a part of our elite group of movers and shakers at the Space Center.

This is Stacy. You remember her from an earlier picture. Stacy has found a way to make herself useful. She is testing our new twirling red alert lights recently purchased to help create the settings for our simulator's landing parties. We bought 12 of them I believe. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes you are. If demand for our camps and classes evaporate we could retool the Center into a pretty cool disco dance hall. Groovy Man........

Finally and firmly in last place we have Jon and his, his...... his........ (what is that?) hummmmm....... his........... It's his 'thing a majig'. Yea, that's what it is.

Wait, I know what that is. It's Jon's 23rd century automatic tea dispenser. How stupid. I should have known that. It makes a really nice British style cup of tea - and - using a nuclear powered heating system, keeps the tea warm until ready to dispense. Jon is going ship to ship offering the Flight Director's a nice cupper to keep 'em going. Jon's a good bloke.
(don't ask me what it really is. It's been floating around the Center for a few years now and used as a prop for everything from an alien communication device to a food mixer).

Anyway, so much Saturday at the Space Center. See what you're missing by not being here?

Mr. Williamson

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Late Night Wanderings at the Space Center

Hello Troops,
It's 10:35 P.M. on May 21, 2010. We are in the thick of another Overnight Camp. Tonight we are hosting sixth graders from Orem Elementary School (and a few others from other schools to fill out our camp numbers). I needed to get up from my computer and stretch my legs and decided to take my camera. What you are about to see is what I saw as I took a quick walk through the school to check on the ships. There is no theme to this post except to say that this is what I saw on a quick three minute walk to get the blood moving back into my legs. So, here we go - a few snapshots showing a moment frozen in time at the Space Center on a Friday Night.

This is Emily. She is playing the Grand PooPah for the Voyager's Mission. She is the first to admit she has no shame.
"I'm taking one for the team," she said. You old timers may recognize the creature in her arms. He's our little Alien from the Voyager Control Room. He was donated to the Voyager years ago by Shane Skaggs. He won it at Lagoon and thought the Space Center would make it a good home.

Zac H. is training to fly the Phoenix. He's seen here but I'm not sure if we're looking at the back of his head or his face. His hair is so out of control no one is really ever sure.

This is a shot of the Phoenix crew in mid mission. Alex A. is the flight director. They are doing the Phoenix's new mission "Murphy's Law" written by Bracken Funk.

Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone. I'm sneaking sugar from my secret stash kept hidden somewhere in the Discovery Room. A walk and a treat is just what the doctor ordered for 10:40 P.M. on a Friday Night. Hmmmm, shall it be salt water taffy or a Peppermint Patty or two. My solution, why ration? It's mine....... ALL mine.

As I stand and experience the wintry blizzard freshness of a Peppermint Patty I ponder the purpose of destroying the Discovery Room. I hear Mr. Daymont in the Magellan Control Room in full voice and character. It appears from his dialog the Magellan Crew is about to venture off their bridge and into this room where they will find the complete and utter distruction caused by maurading aliens aboard the Station.

Isn't it amazing what a red alert screen mixed with a classroom of overturned desks and chairs can become? At the Space Center it could be anything from
1. A classroom with overturned desks and chairs or.....
2. The command bunker of some alien world bombed from orbit by a race of reptiles moving through the galaxy searching and destroying all forms of mammal life they encounter.

Well troops, my walk is complete. It's nearing 11:00 P.M. I'll wander to the cafeteria to set out the ice cream sandwiches and cookies for the late night snack before we put the kids to bed. I'll get this posted but it won't be until after 11:00 P.M.

I hope this post spurred a few cherished memories from the Space Center to our old veteran staff who have since moved on to bigger and better things. My hope is that you never forget the time you spent here at the second Happiest Place on Earth!

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Few Openings For Friday's Overnight Camp

Hello Troops,
We are nearly there, the end of the school year looms before us. The seas are boiling with restless students but our ship is on a steady course for home.

We have a few openings for tomorrow's Overnight Camp (Friday 7:00 P.M. to Saturday 10:00 A.M.) for anyone ages 10 - 14 years old. You'll be joining the 6th graders from Orem Elementary School. If you're interested in attending please send an email with the following information:

Child's Name:
Phone Number:
Parent Name:

Of course our Blog Reader's discount applies: $38.00 for the camp instead of the normal $43

Send your email to

Thank you,
Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This Feels Real

Hello Troops,
It's been a busy Wednesday at the Space Center. AT 5:17 P.M. Emily just walked in with a McDonald's burger. She's going healthy for her sustenance meal. Emily has the Voyager 6:30 P.M. mission and is in limbo. Not enough time to go home and eat something before needing to come back.

Brittney is in the Odyssey running our two Junior missions this afternoon and evening. Brittney has a great attitude toward the Junior program whereas several of our other Odyssey Flight Directors find Junior missions slightly distasteful. They just don't like dealing with the younger campers. I'm glad Brittney feel differently. Thanks Brittney.

Bracken is in the Phoenix with Alex and Megan V. doing a 5 hour test run of his new summer mission "Murphy's Law". Tomorrow is Bracken's last day at the Space Center before leaving for university at Fresno California. He has a full basketball scholarship. Bracken has been a real God Send at the Center. His attitude and enthusiasm energizes me! (and that's something to be said). I for one will miss Bracken's energy, drive, ideas and just grit determination to succeed and be the best at whatever he does.

Bracken's new mission is awesome. I saw part of it on Saturday. It's involved so I hope we can pull it off without him here to hold our hands.

I enjoyed Pleasant Green Elementary School today for the field trip. One thing said made us laugh in the control room. I was telling "Perikoi". The ship survived the attack at Moon D of Planet 9. The new course was entered and the captain ordered "Emergency Speed!" The Voyager pulled away. The main viewer showed the moon recede behind them.

The Bridge was quiet. Everyone was working as the bridge music played (a piece I like from the Transformers. Bracken thinks its the wrong choice of music for the mood I'm trying to set and I disagree). A young girls voice suddenly rang out from the quiet and gentle humming of the engines.
"This feels real!" she said loud enough for everyone to hear.

Bill Schuler was in the control room. He looked at me and said something to effect that her comment pretty much summed up the secret of a Space Center experience. With just a bit of effort on the part of the crew it becomes real as imagination engages and the crew transcends the here and now for the land of What Could Be.

I enjoy my job. My dedicated staff and volunteers make it all fun and rewarding.

Mr. Williamson

A Question from the Imginarium

Are these dots moving? They are, yet they aren't you say. How can it be both? They either are or they aren't moving.
Can we really trust what we see or does the mind see what it wants to see?

Are we really in control?

Give it some thought. Careful, don't ponder it too deeply. The mind has a way of shutting down such idle mental wanderings.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Secret's Out

Well, there you go. My secret's out. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.

Mr. Williamson

Monday, May 17, 2010


We, as a collective whole, have hacked into your blogger account to show our extreme distaste for your lack of posts in your "Enemy From the Dark" Story.

If you continue to do nothing, Emily will be inclined to smack you with that annoying space ship clock. Bracken will hire assassins. The bunnies that once haunted us, will return with a vengeance (like Bill... I mean mad dog). Jon will unexpectedly go out of town for the rest of the week... wait... Christine is going to lie to ALL of her crews... wait... Stacy will melt the new Galileo down, wasting the precious money that has gone into it. Randy will return for the sole purpose of shaking his hips. Taylor Thomas will continue to float in and out of the center... like a ghost. Brittney, and Mark will quit. I will personally kill the old Voyager TV... It's had it's day. Babb will once again scream Admiral through the Maggy speaks. Carrick will take your job. Bill Schuler will start wearing pants. Tanner won't ever show up for work... oh wait. Rachel will giggle and hug everyone. The Magellan Ghost will haunt the halls of the school. Todd Rasband will wear full on purple... Pants included.Warren will stop being witty, and make everyone feel smart... Cuz I feel stupid around him... His humor's too witty for my small brain... Chris Call will come back and cook breakfast in the Odyssey. Kyle Herring will expect pay. Maren won't come in for emergencies anymore. Colton will submit ALL his missions. We'll rearrange your desk. Panda will once again be the Space Center Mascot. DeBirk will show up even later than normal. The VOIP will never work. Todd Hadley will not give any more bail outs. We will be locked out of the basement FOREVER. The shop will burn down. Phasers will be banned, and we'll have to make shooting sounds using our fingers. Brian will turn the vacuum to the reverse setting when he comes. Margarite will replace Saint Sheila Powell as the head of Space Education. Sheila will continue to talk to crews endlessly when we need to load. We will make you get into Megan Vest's car more often. We will set off the alarm consistently every night. And we'll set off the smoke alarms with smoke machines. Brady will quit at Best Buy. Shelley will make us all fill out more paperwork. Kevin won't go on his mission. Casey will run for president... of the space center... Cuz he's not 40 and can't be president of the U.S., yet. Roger will not let you close or open the curtain. Alex will never program again. The district will no longer pay for power. The duck will quack (that is Brittney... She is a duck). Wyatt will breathe your air. Adam will assist. Ben will run into door frames, staining the center in his blood. Nicole will start being mean to the staff. Spencer and Brock will blow our minds by doing less work than normal. Metta will refuse to chaperone. We'll destroy your "love me wall". Aleta will pile more stuff on the clipboard than normal. Zack will grow a mullet, and pierce his ears, AND get a belt buckle at least twice the size of the Magellan. We'll cancel the summer missions. Lorraine will quit! YES QUIT! Emily will hug you constantly. Dragon Lady will bang on the Voyager wall. We will steal all the candy... Wait... Didn't we already do that... Hence it's relocation to the candy brig. Dave will fly Voyager junior missions. We will tie up the programmers making cocoa controls, and stick them in the animation studio. Matt Long will change his last name to short, return from training, and blow up your newly paid off house.

These are not threats, they are promises.

(Bracken Funk & Emily Perry)
(We created this character)
(We love her)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday at the Space Center and the Stages of Flight Directing.

Hello Troops,
It's Saturday at the Inn. While many who read this are enjoying a few days off work, please remember those of us in the trenches - scratching out our meager livings on the fringes of society. We toil in our control rooms, under seemingly unbearable working conditions for our scant wages, working to bring small bits of joy and happiness to those who find their way into our establishment along the carriage road out of our hamlet called Pleasant Grove.

Last evening we hosted a carriage of youngsters from Teaton Valley Wyoming. I believe they were lost and found our wayside inn as the evening settled. We were happy to offer entertainment and accommodations. They were a merry lot and thanked us repeatedly for giving them shelter. The nights in this county can be dangerous. Strange things have been sighted in the dark woods and fields after dark. It was providence they spotted our lamp swinging in the cool breeze from the moonlit lake.

Shortly after their arrival others arrived seeking warmth and amiable shelter until sunrise. They came from Northridge in the south country. Our inn was full and the welcoming lamp extinguished.

There was much laughter served with a trimming of fear in the tales told by our Troubadours last night. We were in good form with voices clear and instruments bright.

The night passed calmly, revealing a new Spring day. Our overnight guests are gone, the dust from the trail has settled and our Troubadours rest. The sun nears mid day.
We are stirred from our naps by the sound of approaching carriages. New guests are arriving. It is time to take up the lute and lyre and play again. It is what we do and we do it well.

Today we take a moment to honor our weekend staff. So while you lounge in your back gardens with drink and sun, think of us........
This is Bracken. He's a bit giddy. He just finished a full Overnight Camp and is currently in mid flight of a private 5 hour mission. He's telling his new Phoenix story, Murphy's Law. Bracken is demonstrating Stage 6, one of the many stages of weekend flight directing.
Stage 1
Refreshed and ready to go! The start of a Overnight Camp.

Stage 2
11:00 P.M. Mild exhausting sets in.

Stage 3
7:15 A.M. Full exhaustion due to a late night of flight directing and a restless sleep haunted by thoughts of a non responsive crew that is "on" to all our tricks.

Stage 4
10:00A.M. Mild hallucinations are quite common at the end of an overnight camp. Flight Directors are running on mental fumes and caffeine.

Stage 5
11:30 A.M. The first of two private missions arrive. Nerves are frayed due to lack of proper sleep and overworked imagination. Flight Directors are known to snap so extreme caution is advised when approaching an FD at this stage.

Stage 6
Second private mission. Flight Directors are beyond exhaustion and are entering that twilight existence of extreme giddiness. False feelings of euphoria are prevalent during this stage. A good second chair is required during Stage Six to keep the flight director on mission and facing the right direction. Handkerchiefs are a must to wipe away spittle that forms in the corners of a Stage 6 FD's mouth.

Stage 7
Collapse and coma like sleep. It is the end of the second private Saturday
mission. Visiting the Space Center during Stage 7 can be alarming. The scene reminds one of Jonestown. Flight Directors can be found passed out in the school's halls, chairs and tables. It is best to not disturb them while in this stage. Let nature take its course. Many of them will wake and go home before the school's alarms activated at 10:00 P.M.

This is Wyatt. He is happy. He is running solo this weekend. He finished his first overnight camp as primary flight director and is on his first Saturday private. Wyatt is paid in candy bars. He hopes someday to join the paid staff and receive real American money, none of that phony Canadian stuff. Until then, he keeps his cardboard sign, stool and dark glasses in the trunk of his parent's mini van. He's got a sweet spot on the corner near Geneva Road and Gandolfos. It brings in a good $5 - $6 per day. Its enough to keep him in soda.

This is Mr. Daymont. You'll notice he is demonstrating good coordination by successfully working a microphone and voice distorter at the same time. This ability characterizes a Flight Director in Stage 1. Mr. Daymont did not work the overnight camp and is therefore on his first Saturday mission. He is alert and mindful of his crew. His speech is clear, free of Stage 4, 5 and 6 slurring. His reasoning skills are excellent. Yes, an good example of a Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center Flight Director in true form!

This is Ben running the Galileo. He is assisted by Jordan. Both join Bracken in Stage 6 of Flight Directing, having successfully finished an Overnight Camp. They are in mid mission on their second Saturday afternoon program.

Ben seems giddishly happy. To someone not familiar with Stage Six Flight Directing one would think he is alert to the needs of his crew. What you don't know is that Ben's crew left the ship several minutes ago for a bathroom break and Ben continues the mission completely oblivious to the silence from the simulator. Jordon isn't helping the situation. He is so well trained that he continues to respond to Ben's commands, even though he is the one that took the crew to the restrooms a few minutes earlier.

This is Emily. She sits in the Odyssey Control Room helping Wyatt through his first experiences with the multiple stages of Flight Directing. Her computer is open to the Flight Director's Manual, ready to perform an intervention if Wyatt snaps. You'll notice the Disney CD to her right. Disney tunes are a must to bring a fading FD out of the panic attacks associated with Stage 5 flight directing and lure him gently into Stage 6 bliss.

Emily's hair is like a dangling string to a kitten. I encourage her to wear it back and away from her face so she isn't distracted. She defies my suggestions and insists it doesn't interfere with her work at all. You be the judge.

Our Programmers work tirelessly through the day on the Galileo's new Cocoa controls. They are showered, shaved, and deodorized, having arrived at the Center just before noon. They are the most alert and therefore act as anchors of reason whenever needed.

Jon and Stacy are in the copy room. It's Stacy's birthday today. She's been sung to multiple times yet seems to enjoy hearing the tune over and over. "I'm Stacy and you may sing to me," she was heard saying to her crew during their overnight camp in the Galileo. Instead of playing them indigestible death time music she had them sing "Happy Birthday". Let it never be said Stacy doesn't enjoy a catchy tune.

I caught them just as Jon was finishing his hip hop rendition of "Happy Birthday". He is a bit peeved that I interrupted his song but knows to hold his tongue. Chewing the boss out is not a recommended path to promotion.

Nathan is not a Flight Director. He is one of our new volunteers. Here he is working on learning the difference between clockwise and counterclockwise in the dimming and brightening of Odyssey's interior lights. In another week or so he will try for a pass. Good Luck Nathan!

This is the sign posted on the Odyssey's Control Room door. I find it well written with a good sense of artistic construction and effective use of color. Signs like these are prevalent throughout the Space Center but this one is by far the best. I thought you'd enjoy a moment of fine art before continuing.

And finally, the volunteers on Magellan's Saturday afternoon mission. What great volunteers we have at the Space Center. They are awesome. If it wasn't for their hard work covering the mistakes of our Flight Directors the Center would have closed years ago :)
Thanks Volunteers for everything you do!

And now, It is time for me to go console a FD entering Stage 5. I'm told he's on the floor chewing his microphone cable.

All in a day's work

Mr. Williamson

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday at the Space Center

Hello Troops,
Its Thursday at the Space Center. My 6th grade math class is canceled. Can you believe they are substituting math and the rest of the morning's subjects for a nature hike up the mountainside?
Their reasoning is sound through. Our sixth grades finished their CRT testing, so for all practical purposes, math is finished. To celebrate everyone felt a few hours in nature was in order. I'm not complaining. I'll enjoy these few minutes before the field trips arrive and catch up on the Space Center's news.

1. Kevin Roberts will fly his last mission during this weekend's overnight camp. Kevin enters the MTC on Wednesday to serve an LDS mission. We will have a cake for Kevin and award his five year service pin right after the overnight camp on Saturday. You're welcome to come by if your not working the camp to give Kevin your regards.

3. Bracken Funk's last mission is next Thursday. Bracken will be leaving for Fresno California. He has a basketball scholarship and needs the summer to get up to speed. We expect to hear great things about both these awesome young men. The Voyager's summer mission program will be led by Emily Perry, Casey Voeks and Spenser Dauwalter.

4. We are expecting the delivery of a new $27,000 planetarium system today. Our old Starlabs are showing their age (multiple holes in the dome which effectively change the look of the night sky. The projectors are nearing the end of their serviceable lives, the dome's lining is shredding etc etc.) Mrs. Clegg is as giddy as a child in a candy shop in anticipation of the delivery. This new system was purchased on her recommendation. She travelled to Denver a year ago to see this system in action and came back very impressed. She promises their won't be a planetarium in the state that can do everything we will be able to do with this system. The planetarium will run shows during our summer camps and will then play a major part in next years school field trips.

5. The new Galileo is being fitted with an additional air conditioner. All those that sweated through missions in the Galileo will be grateful for the upgrade. The Galileo's new torpedo launching system is nearing completion as well. The Galileo's new Cocoa Controls will be installed and ready for use at the start of our summer camp season.

I was told I wasn't a very good crossing guard this morning by one of Central's witty third graders.
"Good morning," I said as I stood in the middle of the street to ensure her safe passage.
"You should have candy to give me when I cross the street," she said. She didn't look like she was having a good day.
"Why should I have a pocket full of candy to give the kids that cross my street?" I asked rather put out by her suggestion.
"Well other crossing guards give out candy and so should you. It's what you do to be nice," she responded as she hopped up to the sidewalk and continued toward the school's front doors.

You see, a smile and a friendly greeting just aren't enough these days.
Good Grief!

Mr. Williamson

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some Quotes from the Magellan's Crews

Hello Troops,
I was reading through some old posts from the Space Center's old blog and thought I'd share this post written by Megan from a few summers ago. Enjoy.....

Hello Everyone,
The Magellan staff record the funnier things crews say on their missions. I thought I would let everyone in on some of the fun. Keep in mind, this isn't everything; the grammar is theirs, not mine; and some have been... edited... to suit the district and protect young minds, so if it doesn't seem THAT funny, I promise it was the funniest
thing I've ever heard at that place, and possibly anywhere because of the context.

One child on a mission seemed to have had a very good sense of smell. These were a couple of things he said:
"I can smell the radiation!"
"I know that smell! That's the smell I smelt before the intruder. Another one's coming on!"

We got several interesting messages through the
computers. Here are some examples.
MESSAGE FROM COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: "That means all of you are fired!!!!!
MESSAGE FROM ENGINEER: "I am scared. Something in all black just came on and tried to kill us! But we are all ok."
"Thanks! Just work as fast as you'd like
to breathe."
MESSAGE FROM COMMUNICATIONS: "Some people think things are forming and some think they are blowing up. And things are just getting strange!"
MESSAGE FROM STRAGETIC OPERATIONS: "Some aliens might come and kill you! Leave Until power and red alert are off Then return to your stations!"
MESSAGE FROM SURVEILLANCE: "Creatures are about to attack the bridge! HOLD ME!!!!!!!"

Some of our campers had very different opinions about how to deal with the creature that had gotten loose. These are a couple of the suggested ways:
"Alright, everyone back here! Everyone get back behind the desk!"

CREATURE ATTACKS: "It's a monkey!" "Die, die you stupid alien monkey!"
ADVICE FROM THE ADMIRAL: "Hit it in the butt!"
CREATURE GOT SUCKED INTO SPACE "Let's hope that creature doesn't come flying at the windshield and go *splat noise*"
INTRUDERS ARE COMING "Alright, if anything comes up here, everyone fire on it, not just one person."
(Security) "What, all two of us?"

We had some very confused crews througout the summer. Here's some proof.
KLINGONS ASK IF THEY SURRENDER. (Lone child) "We surrender!"
(All in unison) " NNNOOOOO!!!"

FINAL BATTLE ENDED: (Kids) "We're dead!"
(Captain) "No we're not! They're running away!" ... "We're alive!"
LOOKING AT THE ANOMALY "What is it?" "It's a space center!"

"Yes! Well, actually..."
"Wahoo!!... Oh wait, is that a bad thing?"
CARGO SHIP EXPLODES "Hurray!" (Captain) "No, you guys. Exploding things is a bad thing."
"Are you sure you're on the right ship?"
"I'm his grandson!"
" Where's his desk?"
"How do you know he didn't just have plastic surgery?"
"There's time!"

"What was that?"
" That was radiation and graviton and stuff."
"Yeah, well, we're 99% sure."
"They're in a different time zone."

Our Admirals had some very different ways to deal with our doctor (played by yours truly) in Invasion. (Just in case you don't know, a ship explodes, and I like to play it up and say my new husband or fiancee or someone of that sort was onboard.)
ADMIRAL NUMBER THE FIRST: "Alright, everyone, give the doctor your full sympathy. Her husband just died."
"Hey, you're good with women. Go cheer up the depressed doctor."

ADMIRAL THE WORSE: "The doctor needs to put her love life on hold... It's not a priority."
"No Doctor, stay down there. Here's a chair for you." (I stayed at the bottom the
whole mission through 2 phaser fights and a creature mauling."

Wanna hear some of what they said about their jobs?
DAMAGE CONTROL IS FEELING OVERWHELMED. "My day's been hard enough already!"
"What's going on? This thing's blinking."
"That thing's always blinking!"

DAMAGE IS LOOKING FOR A REPLACEMENT "I know how to do it. I've been damage control before." *DC SHOOTS A LOOK*
"Yeah, but I'm looking for someone more like me. More like me, and less like you."
WHILE TRYING TO KEEP A CREATURE DOWN: "Woo hoo hoo! I like my job!"

And, finally, some random ones that I didn't know how to group together.
"Why does everyone want to blow up the planet?"
"59, 58, 57..."
"INCOMING ORION FLEET." "I never thought I'd be so happy to see the Orions!"
"CO2 SCRUBBERS ARE OFFLINE" (Damage control)
"Why are the CO2 scrubbers down?"
(Admiral) "Because such is life."
"RANGER IS NOT DOCKED." (Surveillance) "Can we scan if we're still in the docking port?"
"We ARE the docking port."

END OF MISSION "You stupid reality! You suck reality!"

we're not dancing! Oh, fine, you can dance if you want. I don't care." (The crew then proceeded to sing and sway along with "Small World")

"Why are you doing this to us?!?"

TEN MINUTES OF OXYGEN REMAINING "Everyone breathe deep for the last ten minutes of your life!"
CREATURE ATTACK JUST ENDED. "How come creatures wear Nikes? I thought they'd have webed feet or something."

And finally, to top it all off, some staff quotes.
EMILY TO MEGAN (ON THE BRIDGE) "Hi Morgan! Oh wait, I'm Morgan."
MORE SCREAMS. "Looks like Magellans coming back!"

Whew! Finished! And those were only the highlights of the highlights! If you made it through all of those and find yourself wanting more, feel free to come EARLY to a Magellan mission and ask a supervisor. I think the others know where they are. If not,
they're... challenged. By the way, if you didn't figure out which quote is the funniest thing EVER heard at the Space Center, I'm sorry. I'm not gonna tell you which one it is. You're just out of luck. How much longer should I keep going with this? I think I'm done.

Congrats if you made it this far!
Flight Director/Supervisor

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Imaginarium Research for the Numerically Challenged

Our research department reports that those that use our new Speedometer for the Numerically Challenged have a 50% reduction in speeding tickets.

The Imaginarium, Research for a Better World...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Idaho School Bus Accident Involving Students Coming to the Overnight Camp!

Hello Troops,
The students are safe and in the ships after an accident involving their school bus bringing them to the Space Center from Terraton Idaho for tonight's Overnight Camp.
I'm relieved! It would be devastating if anyone was injured or killed in the accident, especially because they were on their way to our Overnight Camp. The entire story is below along with pictures from the crash.

Again, the kids are in the ships now. I hear debating, music, explosions, a bit of shouting and the normal sounds of five simulators all neck deep in EdVentures into the Cosmos. What could have been a disaster turned out to OK. Again, we are glad the kids are here at the Center, alive, uninjured and having fun.

Mr. Williamson

By: Stuart Summers

It was a wild ride for dozens of students Friday morning after the school bus they were traveling in was hit by a truck on Interstate 15. The collision sent the bus from West Jefferson School District off the interstate and down an embankment.

Melanie Newman, mother riding school bus: "It was rather scary. It was something you don't expect."

It began as an overnight middle school trip to space camp in Utah, but early on in their voyage the bus encountered some turbulence.

Audrey Newman, 7th grade student on bus: "We just slammed on the brakes, and I saw the car flip and I didn't really know what was happening. I was glad when it was over."

Just before 7:30 a.m. the 61 year-old driver of a 1999 Toyota Tacoma lost control of his truck while trying to pass this school bus. The two vehicles collided just north of Blackfoot causing the truck to overturn, and sending the school bus down an embankment.

Melanie: "We went off the interstate and the bus kept going for a ways. That was it. It stopped and we're glad it stopped."

The dozens of students aboard the school bus were startled by the accident, but luckily no one was injured.

The driver of the truck was taken by ambulance to Bingham Memorial Hospital and was treated for minor injuries.

As for the trip to Utah and space camp, a new bus was sent to pick up the kids and they are on their way.

Melanie: "Everyone was shaken up a bit, but we'll go on with the trip and have a good experience."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One of Imagination's Happy Places

The Beach after a summer's rain...........
Imagination Airlines can take you there anytime and there's no fee for carry on bags :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Apple Seduces......

One taste, one bite and into the trance............
The Imaginarium..........

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The History of the Space Center Continues

Hello Troops,
The history of the Space Center continues in this post by Bill Schuler. Thanks Bill for getting this written so we have a real history. My memories of those old days have either evaporated or have been forgotten for sanity's sake. Please read. I know its long and some of you younglings aren't into 'Long Reads' (the texting generation) but you'll really appreciated how nice it is today compared to the old days when the Center first opened its doors in 1990.

And now Bill's Post.

As it Was
by Bill Schuler

Here we are, once again.

Note: Before continuing with the saga of the "Pizza Guy" I thought I would give an outline of the physical layout of the Space Center the way it was when it opened. Precious few records of that time exist so most of you really haven't any idea just how primitive the facilities were when compared to the current layout. This may give you a little more prospective on how far we have come. Also keep in mind that the Voyager was it! No other ship existed.

As it Was

Picture in your mind the bridge of Voyager in school year 1991-1992. The layout was not unlike it is today. Communications on the lower level, Right and Left Wing on the mid level, and some unoccupied areas on the top level. Also on the top level, where the Engineering Station now is, sat a large Plexiglas Box with a remote robot arm inside.

Back in those days the Captain's position was on the lower level with the communications
people. Security was a rather nebulous position which had no official status and no formal
station. The top level where the Command dais, security, and science stations are now located were unoccupied. Desks were in place but no computers. These desks were usually either unoccupied or had observers sitting at them.

One day, while a group of Jr. High students were doing a mission, the appointed Captain
removed herself from the Captain's chair and planted herself on the desk on the highest level. Through the microphone Vic told her to go back to her station. The Captain replied "Thank you very much but her current position was much more practical for observing the bridge than the official location. This was one of those "Daaaa!!!!" moments and from that time on the Command station was moved to it's current location. Security eventually took over the desk where today's security station sits; with the exception that it faced out to the bridge rather than in to the wall. Records and Science stations eventually filled the remaining desk on the top level. I miss those desks. They made such wonderful barricades. One pirate, if he or she knew what they were doing, could hold the entire bridge against the crew by using the captain's desk as cover. Oh the memories!!!

Back then the computers consisted of an assortment of Apple Macintosh computers. These
puppies were the single box, all in one machines with 9 1/2" black and white screens featuring four, count them four, shades of gray! and hard drives significantly smaller than today's typical iPod. They sat, semi recessed into the desks.

Mission control was pretty sparse. Vic's station was in the same position, with a microphone , a couple of Audio tape players and a music CD player. The CD player had a capacity of 1 CD! These were all tied together with a primitive soundboard which controlled the volume of the various devices. All sound that was generated by these devices stored on tape or Commercial CD.(At the time it was not possible to burn a CD.) No sound computers existed as of yet to store or provide sound effects. During a mission Vic would have something like 30 or 40 Audio tapes carefully arraigned in front of him. How he kept track of them, I will never know, but rare was the time when there was no sound and music on the bridge. As of yet there was no voice distorter to create different voices. All the various voices came out of your own throat.

What would now be described as the "Second Chair" consisted of a couple of Macs that saw all of the computers on the bridge. In those days (As Brian Hawkings described in his post) we used a devilish program know as Timbuktu to see and control the other computers. This was not what you would consider ideal. Timbuktu allowed you to see a computer on the bridge and control it if necessary but it was very awkward. The guy (no gals yet) in charge of that station looked at the screens and would tell Vic if a certain crewman was operating his or her station correctly. There were something like 17 computers on the bridge and 2 computers at Second Chair to monitor them. Remember these computers have 9 1/2 inch screens! What you had to do is tile all the
computer screens from the bridge onto these 2 Mission Control monitors. Using this system a crewman would do something (or not), Second Chair would monitor the action and then
verbally relay to Vic whether it was done correctly. Woe be to the inattentive Second Chair.

This system in addition to being very labor and verbal communication intensive was very slow. since you were virtually seeing and controlling all the computers using very narrow bandwidth with very chatty software, they were, by today's standards, unacceptably slow in their response time. But at the time it was all we had.

Next to Second Chair was the Video Station. All visuals ran through this station just as they do now. Three devices made up this station; 2 video tape players and 1 laser disk player. One VCR would play the mission tape, the other would play stars and the Laser disk would do whatever. As today a switch box allowed you to switch from one device to another.

Mission tapes at that time were austere affairs. Ships moving in front of planets, Through wormholes etc. Footage was exclusively from the Star Trek films. Vic did the tapes in those days. They were recorded using the two consumer VHS players at the Video station. With no time base correction the copies were noticeably less pristine than the original. One of the major problems using this type of equipment is your edits. Without insert edit capability (This required a special type of tape head not usually installed on consumer machines) each edit has to reestablish the the track resulting in a huge signal degradation lasting several seconds. There was a way to avoid this. By pausing in the record mode and unpausing with a new clip you could reduce transition disturbance to something approaching acceptable. The downside to using the pause was that it would last only three minutes, then the machine would automatically turn itself off leaving you, once again with a huge signal break. The play VCR also had a speed control so the playback could be slowed down to stretch out the shot. While it stretched the length of the shot it also created a noticeable strobe and jerkiness (no frame blending way back then).

The majority of the images used back then came from a Laser Disk player, a technology that dated from the early 80's. It's introduction into the consumer market was hampered by the versatility of the VHS tape recorder. It wasn't until a decade later that the merits of the Laser Disk began to be appreciated by the consumer public. The disk itself was that size of one of those LP platters that were the norm for storing music prior to the introduction of the CD. The disk when placed into the player would be scanned by a laser and this data would be translated into video and audio signals. It's main advantage over the VHS tape was it's superior digital image and sound. Another great feature was the disk was a random access device, you could program in chapter codes to immediately access the particular image you wanted. This was not possible with tape, which had to be forwarded and reversed sequentially. The Laser Disk was a big hit in education circles because of the huge amount of data that could be stored and retrieved on demand.

Vic used several Disks distributed by NASA. The video person had a list of chapter codes to quickly bring up the appropriate images. This remarkable piece of equipment surged back
onto the consumer market in the early 90's when people recognized the medium's obvious image and sound quality advantages over VHS Tape, So superior, in fact, that if you recorded a Laser Disk image onto video tape, that recorded image had a greater quality than a commercially recorded VHS tape. This technology virtually disappeared in the mid 90's with the introduction and meteoric rise of the DVD .

Back in those prehistoric days, there was one more position in mission control, Tactical! The tactical computer, once again, one of those little Mac's was set up on a desk where the stairs leading to decontanimation are now. It in turn was connected to a state of the art LCD screen that sat on top of an old fashioned overhead projector which in turn flashed the LCD screen image onto the tactical window. The image was black and white, or rather blue and yellow. This set up was very temperamental. The easiest way to get Vic into a bad mood was to mess with this setup.

At that time Vic had no direct control of the Tactical computer. A staff member had to man that device to get images to move, by clicking and dragging. By doing so the staff member would move the Voyager out of Space Dock, dodge torpedo's, maneuver through asteroid fields etc. Again this called for a lot of verbal communication to coordinate. The actions on the tactical screen had to match what was going on in the rest of the story. At that time, the most important prerequisite for being a staff member was that one had to be telepathic.

And that is the way it was. nothing like the level of integration we enjoy today. Despite the shortcomings of the Center this was truly it's Golden Age.

More on that to Come.

Bill Schuler

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Astrofest at BYU!

To Whom It May Concern,

The BYU Physics and Astronomy Department is excited to announce BYU AstroFest, a fun interactive astronomy event for kids and families on Saturday May 22, 2010, on BYU campus. We would appreciate it if you would let your scouts know about this event through you, their leaders and their parents.

The purpose of AstroFest is to educate and excite children and their families about space and science through hands-on learning activities. Some these activities include building and launching your own rocket, making your own constellation finder, and a planetary scavenger hunt. In addition there will be free planetarium shows, physics demonstrations, lights and lasers shows and planetary atmosphere presentations. We will also have a solar station with activities about solar energy, solar ovens, and solar telescopes for safe viewing of the sun. We are happy to announce that this year we will be having a Mars Mission Training Center, where children and families can “climb” the tallest mountain in the solar system, and complete astronaut fitness training in our obstacle course. AstroFest will then conclude later in the evening with a telescope star party.

This event is FREE and open to the public from 10am-4pm with activities ongoing throughout the day. All AstroFest activities can be easily tied into any science, astronomy or scout curriculum. In addition we have free educational material from NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope to give away. Please let your leaders and scouts know about this free educational event. We look forward to seeing you there and sharing our love of the universe with you!

For more information please visit our webpage at The website includes a flyer that can be downloaded for distribution. If you have specific questions please e-mail or call Heather Jones at 801-422-5372.

Thank you!

Denise Stephens, Faculty Advisor

Heather P. Jones, AstroFest Coordinator

AstroFest Committee