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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Space Center Stories from the Past. November 5, 2006

Space Center Journal
November 5, 2006

Kids Comments

Every morning I stand at the top of the spiral staircase waiting for crews to make their climb to the bridge. Every morning I get the same response. Overwhelmed and unbridled joy is the only way I can describe it.

"Wow, this is Star Trek," a boy said this week as he stopped two steps from me and dissected every part of the bridge with his eyes. He was holding up the line. I stepped forward, pulled him toward me and asked for his Boarding Pass. I got the glazed

"Your Boarding Pass," I asked again. It was produced and taken. I showed him where to sit. He moved one step and stopped, "Chad, this is sooo cool. It's Star Trek," he
exclaimed. I'm not sure who Chad was for no one responded, perhaps Chad was at the bottom of the steps unable to move because of the blockage caused by this young admirer.

Later in the week we had another crew overcome by the experience. During the 'Cry
From the Dark' asteroid sequence a boy at Left Wing Power jumped out of his chair as the Captain was shouting "Thrusters! Use the Thrusters!" and the alarms rang.

"My heart is beating so fast I can't stand it. It is going to pop out of my chest! THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER!" he shouted so all could here. That young man gave this old teacher a moment of pure satisfaction. Stacy and I looked at each other in the Control Room and grinned.

"Now that is what I'm talking about," I said as I prepared to take the crew deeper and
deeper into my web. At the end of the mission the Engineer stopped and looked at the bridge one last time. You could see he was reluctant to leave.

"Are you coming," the teacher asked.

"This is the best field trip in the whole world," he pronounced. "It was so exciting my
heart still won't stop beating."

Friends, this is what is being said about what we do. We tell stories that will never be forgotten. These children will take this experience with them to the grave. It will be a story they will tell and retell for years to come. It will be their story of courage and bravery against overwhelming odds.

Before their visit to the Center, courage and bravery are things they've only read about in books and seen in movies. Now, they experienced it first hand and are alive to tell the tale to unsuspecting parents waiting at home. Friends, It Is Magic. Don't you fell awesome to be a part of this?

Is It Chocolate?

Last week I was on the bridge doing what I do - calming the excited and showing them where to sit. Halfway through placing the morning class I noticed a young man standing beside me. It was someone I'd met at the beginning of the line and instructed to sit at the Record's Station. He had the hood of his hoodie up and had his hands cupped in front of his mouth.

"Sir," he said quietly. I usually don't allow interruptions during the seating of a class. If I do I'm bombarded with questions about the set, the decor, and how one's job is to be performed. I felt him getting closer to me. "Sir," he said again. His voice was urgent. I stopped the line and turned to help him. I saw two large eyes looking up at me from the shadows of hood. The boy had his hands to his face. I noticed his mouth was covered with something brown.

"Chocolate?" I wondered. "Doesn't this boy know how to eat? He spread chocolate all over his face. What a mess." I looked into his cupped hands. Brown also. "I'm throwing up," he said spitting onto his palms. There is nothing that gets a big guy like me moving faster then those words. I sprang into action reaching for the trash can at the First Officer's Station. I set him down on the Security platform with the can between his legs. A box of kleenex was luckily available. A quick examination of the carpet and his uniform gave relief. We caught the eruption in time.

For many of our campers walking up to the bridge is overwhelming. To us - nothing.
To them this is something quite frightening. It is one thing to play a video game but to be completely immersed into a game is something different. The two most spoken
responses to seeing the Voyager's Bridge for the first time are, "This is so cool," and
"This is so scary."

Metta's Workout

Last week we had our share of surprises. On Thursday the visiting school arrived with
35 in each class. Teachers are instructed to notify me if their class size is larger than 32 so we can have the Galileo ready to accommodate the large numbers. This teacher
neglected to do so and was apologetic. The apology was welcome but we still faced the same problem. Would there be enough staff. Stacy was needed to fly the Phoenix. With Aleta home, recovering from surgery, that left Metta and I in the Voyager. The
working schedule showed it was an A day for our high school interns. Casey was due in so the catastrophe was avoided.

Training and briefing was finished. I gave my `blast off' speech and left the bridge at
10:35 A.M. I walked into the Control Room expecting to see Metta and Casey . I
walked into the Control Room finding Metta alone at the helm. I sent Metta to
Discovery to ask Lorraine to come in and help us as soon as she had the morning class to lunch. Lorraine's help would save us for the last ten minutes of the mission but what about the other fifty?

Metta understood what was being asked of her. We sprang into action. I did everything I could as Tex to verbally help kids struggling at their stations. Metta
ran back and forth between the Bridge and the Control Room doing both jobs. Luckily she knew the mission well enough to know when she was free for a minute or two to help the kids. I also used the Captain and First Officers as Bridge helpers. The
Captain moved around the bridge solving problems as they arose with me talking him through them in his ear.

Near the end of the mission Casey arrived. He was late due to illness. He ran up to the
bridge. With him in place I was able to speed up the mission. The students finished the flight.

Metta was fantastic and earned her title of `Miracle Worker'.
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